The loss of early-phase insulin secretion is an important and early event in the natural history of type 2 diabetes. Because a normal pattern of insulin secretion is essential for the effective control of postprandial metabolism, a rational basis for the development of agents that target early-phase insulin release exists. Conventional oral hypoglycaemic agents do not target, or adequately control, postprandial glycaemia. The emergence of new classes of oral agent with a more specific mode of action provides, for the first time, an opportunity to restore early-phase insulin release. One such drug class is the meglitinide analogues (repaglinide, nateglinide, and mitiglinide). These drugs are ideally suited for combination use with metformin. They could also prove effective in combination with a thiazolidinedione, a drug class that targets insulin resistance. Exogenous insulin is frequently required in the late management of type 2 diabetes. However, one hope for newer combinations of diabetic drugs is that the functional life of the beta cell can be extended, thereby delaying the need for insulin injections.