Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is characterized by albuminuria, loss of renal function, renal fibrosis and infiltration of macrophages originating from peripheral monocytes inside kidneys. DN is also associated with intrarenal overactivation of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), an enzymatic cascade which is expressed and controlled at the cell and/or tissue levels. All members of the RAS are present in the kidneys and most of them are also expressed in monocytes/macrophages. This review focuses on the control of monocyte recruitment and the modulation of macrophage polarization by the RAS in the context of DN. The local RAS favors the adhesion of monocytes on renal endothelial cells and increases the production of monocyte chemotactic protein-1 and of osteopontin in tubular cells, driving monocytes into the kidneys. There, proinflammatory cytokines and the RAS promote the differentiation of macrophages into the M1 proinflammatory phenotype, largely contributing to renal lesions of DN. Finally, resolution of the inflammatory process is associated with a phenotype switch of macrophages into the M2 anti-inflammatory subset, which protects against DN. The pharmacologic interruption of the RAS reduces albuminuria, improves the trajectory of the renal function, decreases macrophage infiltration in the kidneys and promotes the switch of the macrophage phenotype from M1 to M2.