Diabetes nephropathy (DN), as one of the most common complications of diabetes and the most common cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in the world, is closely related to the incidence rate of type 1 and 2 diabetes. Due to the increasing prevalence and mortality of diabetes, it is of great significance to treat DN effectively. However, the pathogenesis of DN is extremely complex and has not been fully elucidated. As shown by recent studies, the pathogenesis of DN may be related to renal injury caused by autophagy, oxidative stress, endoplasmic reticulum stress, inflammatory reaction, and excessive activation of renin angiotensin aldosterone system. Indeed, autophagy is a highly conserved self-protection mechanism, through which cells degrade and recycle intracellular macromolecules and organelles to maintain intracellular environmental homeostasis and structural integrity. It has been confirmed that autophagy plays a crucial role in maintaining the environmental stability of glomeruli and tubules, and the damage of autophagy is related to the pathogenesis of DN. At the same time, a large amount of evidence indicates that the targeting autophagy pathway to activate and restore autophagy activity may exert a nephroprotective effect. Thus, this paper reviews the recent progress of autophagy in the pathogenesis of DN.