Heavy metals are known to be toxic to organisms. The present study was undertaken to evaluate the protective effect of sodium selenite against lead nitrate (LN)-induced nephrotoxicity in diabetic and nondiabetic rats. Animals were divided into eight groups where the first was served as a control, whereas the remaining groups were treated with sodium selenite (1 mg/kg b.w.), LN (22.5 mg/kg b.w.) and a combination of LN and sodium selenite and diabetic forms of these groups. Changes in antioxidant enzyme activities, malondialdehide levels, serum urea, uric acid, creatinine levels, body, and kidney weights and histopathological changes were determined after 28 days. LN caused severe histopathological changes, increment in urea, uric acid, creatinine, and MDA levels, also decreasing in antioxidant enzyme activities, body, and kidney weights. In sodium selenite+LN group, we observed the protective effect of sodium selenite on examining parameters. Also diabetes caused alterations on these parameters compared with nondiabetic animals. We found that sodium selenite did not show protective effect on diabetes caused damages. As a result, LN caused nephrotoxicity and sodium selenite alleviated this toxicity but sodium selenite did not protect kidneys against diabetes mediated toxicity. Also, LN caused more harmfull effects in diabetic groups compared with nondiabetic groups. (c) 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 31: 1229-1240, 2016.