We previously reported that rice endosperm protein (REP) has renoprotective effects in Goto–Kakizaki rats, a non-obese diabetic model. However, whether these effects occur in obese diabetes remains unclear. This study aimed to clarify the effects of REP on obese diabetes, especially on fatty liver and diabetic nephropathy, using the obese diabetic model Zucker diabetic fatty (ZDF) rats. In total, 7-week-old male ZDF rats were fed diets containing 20 % REP or casein (C) for 8 weeks. Changes in fasting blood glucose levels and urinary markers were monitored during the experimental period. Hepatic lipids and metabolites were measured and renal glomeruli were observed morphologically. HbA1c levels were significantly lower in rats fed REP, compared with C (P<0·05). Compared with C in the liver, REP prevented lipid accumulation (total lipid, TAG and total cholesterol, P<0·01). Liver metabolome analysis indicated that levels of metabolites associated with glycolysis, the pentose phosphate pathway and carnitine metabolism were significantly greater in the REP group than in the C group (P<0·05), suggesting activation of both glucose catabolism and fatty acid oxidation. The metabolite increases promoted by REP may contribute to suppression of liver lipid accumulation. Urinary excretion of albumin and N-acetyl-β-d-glucosaminidase was significantly reduced in rats fed REP for 8 weeks (P<0·01). In addition, there was a distinct suppression of mesangial matrix expansion and glomerular hypertrophy in response to REP (P<0·01). Thus, REP had preventive effects on obese diabetes, fatty liver and diabetic nephropathy.