Abstract Objectives Depression and diabetes often occur together and their comorbidity has a significant and detrimental impact on health outcomes. The aims of this paper are to review the existing international literature on approaches to health care for comorbid depression and diabetes and draw out the key conclusions for both research and future development in health care delivery. Methods Narrative review of the literature with synthesis by an international team of authors. Results The synthesized findings are discussed under four main headings: specialty and generalist care; models for co-ordinating and integrating care; community approaches to service delivery; and the role of health policy. Limitations The review only included literature published in English. Conclusions Translating basic and clinical research findings into improved treatment and outcomes of those with depression and diabetes remains a substantial challenge. There is little research on the difficulties of identifying and implementing best practice into routine health care. Systems need to be designed so that evidence-based interventions are provided in a timely way, with appropriate professional expertise where required.