This study was carried out to assess the effects of Se supplementation on biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress in patients with diabetic nephropathy (DN). This randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted among sixty patients with DN. Patients were randomly divided into two groups to take either 200 µg/d Se supplements as Se yeast (n 30) or placebo (n 30) for 12 weeks. In unadjusted analyses, compared with the placebo, Se supplementation led to a significant reduction in high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) (−1069·2 (sd 1752·2) v. −135·3 (sd 1258·9) ng/ml, P=0·02), matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) (−612·3 (sd 679·6) v. +76·0 (sd 309·1) ng/ml, P<0·001) and plasma malondialdehyde (MDA) concentrations (−0·1 (sd 0·7) v. +0·4 (sd 0·9) µmol/l, P=0·01). In addition, a significant increase in plasma total antioxidant capacity (TAC) (+174·9 (sd 203·9) v. +15·8 (sd 382·2) mmol/l, P=0·04) was observed following supplementation with Se compared with the placebo. Subjects who received Se supplements experienced a borderline statistically significant decrease in serum protein carbonyl (PCO) levels (P=0·06) compared with the placebo. When we adjusted the analysis for baseline values of biochemical parameters, age and BMI, serum hs-CRP (P=0·14) and MDA levels (P=0·16) became non-significant, whereas plasma nitric oxide (NO) (P=0·04) and glutathione (GSH) (P<0·001) became statistically significant, and other findings did not change. Supplementation with Se had no significant effect on NO, transforming growth factor β (TGF-β), advanced glycation end products (AGE), PCO and GSH compared with the placebo. Overall, our study demonstrated that Se supplementation among DN patients had favourable effects on serum MMP-2, plasma NO, TAC and GSH, but did not affect hs-CRP, TGF-β, AGE, PCO and MDA.