Historically, there has been a scarcity of evidence-based topical therapy to hasten the healing of diabetic foot ulcers. But recently new evidence-based treatments have emerged from multicentre, randomised, controlled trials. This article highlights those trials, and describes the current pharmacological management of the diabetic foot ulcer and the advances that have been made in wound therapy to date. It provides an overview of topical and systemic pharmacotherapies in current use and those in development for future use in managing the diabetic foot. For each treatment, proposed mechanisms of action and evidence available to support their clinical use are presented. There is supporting randomised, controlled evidence for sucrose octasulfate in the treatment of neuro-ischaemic ulcers, and multi-layered patch of autologous leucocytes, platelets and fibrin in ulcers with or without ischaemia. There is also evidence for placentally derived products and for topical and systemic oxygen therapy in the healing of diabetic foot ulcers. Growth factors, bio-engineered tissues, stem cell therapy, gene therapy and peptide therapy also have some supporting evidence in the healing of diabetic foot ulcers. Nonsurgical debriding agents may be useful when the optimum approach of sharp debridement is not possible, and immunomodulators may be helpful for their antimicrobial effects, but robust data is still required to strengthen the case for general use. The review does not cover antimicrobials as their primary role are as anti-infectives and not in wound healing. The development of nanotechnology has created a means of prolonging the bioavailability of target molecules at the wound site, with the use of glass/hydrogel nanoparticles, polyethylene glycol and hyaluronic acid. Looking forward, novel therapies, including traction force-activated payloads, local delivery of short-interfering RNA and finally hydrogels incorporating bioactive agents or cells may provide possibilities for pharmacotherapy in the future.