Treatment options for type 2 diabetes have expanded. While metformin remains the first line treatment in most cases, choices for second line treatment now extend beyond sulfonylureas and include the sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1) receptor agonists, and dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4) inhibitors. SGLT2 inhibitors are recommended for people with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, heart failure or kidney disease. Diabetic ketoacidosis is an uncommon but important side effect; its occurrence can be minimised with appropriate patient education and management, especially during perioperative periods and times of illness. GLP1 receptor agonists are recommended for people with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Gastrointestinal side effects are common but are less prominent with the longer acting agents and can be minimised with slow titration of the shorter acting agents. DPP4 inhibitors are generally well tolerated, but alogliptin and saxagliptin should be used with caution in people with risk factors for heart failure. To optimise the management of type 2 diabetes, clinicians need to be aware of the pharmacological characteristics of each class of blood glucose-lowering medications and of the effect on cardiovascular health and renal function, balanced by potential adverse effects. Medications that have cardiovascular or renal benefits should be prescribed for patients with these comorbidities, and this is reflected in recent international guidelines.