Background Compelling evidence has shown that diabetic metabolic disorder plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease, including increased expression of β-amyloid protein (Aβ) and tau protein. Evidence has supported that minocycline, a tetracycline derivative, protects against neuroinflammation induced by neurodegenerative disorders or cerebral ischemia. This study has evaluated minocycline influence on expression of Aβ protein, tau phosphorylation, and inflammatory cytokines (interleukin-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α) in the brain of diabetic rats to clarify neuroprotection by minocycline under diabetic metabolic disorder. Method An animal model of diabetes was established by high fat diet and intraperitoneal injection of streptozocin. In this study, we investigated the effect of minocycline on expression of Aβ protein, tau phosphorylation, and inflammatory cytokines (interleukin-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α) in the hippocampus of diabetic rats via immunohistochemistry, western blotting, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Results These results showed that minocycline decreased expression of Aβ protein and lowered the phosphorylation of tau protein, and retarded the proinflammatory cytokines, but not amyloid precursor protein. Conclusion On the basis of the finding that minocycline had no influence on amyloid precursor protein and beta-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 which determines the speed of Aβ generation, the decreases in Aβ production and tau hyperphosphorylation by minocycline are through inhibiting neuroinflammation, which contributes to Aβ production and tau hyperphosphorylation. Minocycline may also lower the self-perpetuating cycle between neuroinflammation and the pathogenesis of tau and Aβ to act as a neuroprotector. Therefore, the ability of minocycline to modulate inflammatory reactions may be of great importance in the selection of neuroprotective agents, especially in chronic conditions like diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.