Diabetic nephropathy is the leading cause of renal failure in the United States. The obese Zucker rat (OZR; fa/fa) is a commonly used model of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome (MetS), and of the nephropathy and renal oxidative stress commonly seen in these disorders. Heterozygous lean Zucker rats (LZRs; fa/+) are susceptible to high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obesity and MetS. The present study was designed to investigate whether 4-hydroxy-2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine-N-oxyl (TEMPOL), a membrane-permeable radical scavenger, could alleviate the renal effects of MetS in OZR and LZR fed a HFD, which resembles the typical “Western” diet. OZR and LZR were fed a HFD (OZR-HFD and LZR-HFD) or regular diet (OZR-RD and LZR-RD) and allowed free access to drinking water or water containing 1 mmol/l TEMPOL for 10 weeks. When compared to OZR-RD animals, OZR-HFD animals exhibited significantly higher levels of total renal cortical reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, plasma lipids, insulin, C-reactive protein, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine (Cr), and urinary albumin excretion (P < 0.05); these changes were accompanied by a significant decrease in plasma high-density lipoprotein levels (P < 0.05). The mRNA expression levels of desmin, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), nuclear factor κB (NFκB), and NAD(P)H oxidase-1 (NOX-1) were significantly higher in the renal cortical tissues of OZR-HFD animals; NFκB p65 DNA binding activity as determined by electrophoretic mobility shift assay was also significantly higher in these animals. The same trends were noted in LZR-HFD animals. Our data demonstrate that TEMPOL may prove beneficial in treating the early stages of the nephropathy often associated with MetS.