Abstract Wasting of connective tissues including skin, bone, and cartilage have been closely associated with elevated matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity and depressed collagen content in the streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rat, while tetracyclines have been reported to normalize total body weight, skin hydroxyproline and collagen content in this model, in part through inhibition of MMPs. In the present study, we report the effect of CMT-1, a chemically modified tetracycline that lacks antimicrobial properties but retains divalent cation binding and MMP inhibitory activity, on diabetic skin collagen synthesis and steady-state levels of procollagen α1(I) mRNA. Male, 4-month old Sprague–Dawley rats received a single injection of 75 mg/kg STZ or citrate vehicle alone and diabetic status was confirmed by positive glucosuria. Some diabetic animals received 10 mg/day of CMT-1 by oral gavage and, 28 days after STZ treatment, body weight, blood glucose values and the in vivo rates of skin collagen production were measured using the pool-expansion technique. Steady-state levels of procollagen α1(I) mRNA were analyzed 21 days after STZ treatment by hybridization of total RNA with a 32P labelled cDNA to rat type I procollagen α1(I) mRNA in a dot-blot assay. STZ treatment was found to significantly depress body weight, skin collagen hydroxyproline content, the in vivo rate of collagen production, and hybridizable levels of type I procollagen α1(I) mRNA. CMT-1 administered daily to STZ-treated rats inhibited the diabetic depression of these parameters but had little or no effect on non-diabetic controls or on STZ-induced hyperglycemia. Thus, in addition to the inhibition of MMP mediated extracellular collagen degradation, these results suggest CMT-1 also acts to inhibit diabetic connective tissue breakdown in STZ-induced diabetes by increasing both steady-state levels of type I procollagen mRNA and collagen synthesis through mechanism(s) that are independent of the antibacterial properties of tetracyclines.