Diabetic nephropathy has developed into a worldwide epidemic and is responsible for the majority of end-stage renal disease in most countries. Antihypertensive treatment slows the progression of the disease. In addition, blockade of the renin–angiotensin system reduces the degree of albuminuria and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) have been shown to delay the progression from microalbuminuria to overt proteinuria in patients with diabetes. However, few studies have examined whether the initial stage of diabetic nephropathy (i.e. the development of microalbuminuria) in patients with type 2 diabetes can be slowed or prevented by ARB treatment. The Randomised Olmesartan And Diabetes MicroAlbuminuria Prevention (ROADMAP) study is a placebo-controlled, multicentre, double-blind, parallel group study investigating the effect of the ARB, olmesartan medoxomil, on the incidence of microalbuminuria. A total of 4400 type 2 diabetes patients with normoalbuminuria will be randomized to treatment with 40 mg of olmesartan medoxomil once daily or placebo. Goal blood pressure will be 130/80 mmHg. The primary endpoint of the study is the occurrence of microalbuminuria. In ROADMAP, we will also assess as secondary endpoints the effects of olmesartan on fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events in patients with diabetes. In addition, within subgroups of the ROADMAP patients, the effects of olmesartan on retinopathy and other microvascular circulations will be analysed. The study is expected to last a median of 5 years. The ROADMAP study will answer the question whether an ARB can prevent or delay the onset of microalbuminuria and whether this translates into protection against cardiovascular events and renal disease.