Vanadium was first discovered in 1813 by the Spanish mineralogist del Rio, who gave it the name "panchromium" because of its color changes when passing through various oxidation states. It was rediscovered in 1831 by the Swedish chemist Nils Gabriel Sefstrom, who named the compound Vanadis, a nickname of the Germanic beauty, youth and lustre symbol. In humans, the total body pool of vanadium is estimated to be around 100-200 μg. In common with most transitional metals, vanadium exists in several valence states. In biological systems vanadium is found predominantly as vanadate (+5) and vanadyl (+4) forms. In the plasma, vanadium exists in both oxidation states. Approximately 90% is bound to proteins, predominantly transferrin. Most ingested vanadium is transformed in the stomach to cationic vanadile and remains in this form as it passes through the duodenum. Vanadium is preferentially distributed in the bone, kidney and liver following intraperitoneal injection; the bone representing the main storage depot for vanadium. Vanadium affects various aspects of carbohydrate metabolism including glucose transport, glucose transporter translocation, glycolysis and glycolitic enzymes, glucose oxidation, glucose output and glycogen synthesis. The insulin-like effects of vanadium also extend to the lipid metabolic pathways and on protein metabolism and mitogenesis. Despite the availability of insulin and a host of oral hypoglycemic drugs, diabetes still remains a major health concern for humans. Therefore, new therapeutic approaches are needed to treat diabetes more efficiently. In this regard, studies have demonstrated that the trace element vanadium exert various insulinomimetic and antidiabetic effects in vivo and in vitro. The exact cellular mechanism of action of vanadium appears to involve a combination of several post-receptor events in the insulin-signaling cascade. In the current review, the history of vanadium and its interaction with diabetes, proposed mechanisms of action and related studies were attempted to be summarized.