Several epidemiological and prospective studies suggest that an early intensive control of hyperglycaemia is able to decrease the risk of diabetic micro- and macro-vascular complications. A growing body of experimental evidence supports the concept that the risk for diabetes complications may be linked to oxidative stress, non-enzymatic glycation of proteins, epigenetic changes, and chronic inflammation, laying the foundation for the "metabolic memory" theory. From a clinical point of view, this theory supports the need for a very early aggressive treatment, with the goal of normalizing metabolic control as soon as possible. It may also prove beneficial to introduce therapeutic agents that are able to reduce reactive species and glycation, in addition to presenting better control of glucose levels in patients with diabetes, in order to minimize long-term diabetes complications. In this review, we evaluate the effect of glucose intake and metabolism in the light of this theory.