Therapies targeting the action of incretin hormones have been under close scrutiny in recent years. The incretin effect has been defined as postprandial enhancement of insulin secretion by gut-derived factors. Likewise, incretin mimetics and incretin effect amplifiers are the two different incretin-based treatment strategies developed for the treatment of diabetes. Although, incretin mimetics produce effects very similar to those of natural incretin hormones, incretin effect amplifiers act by inhibiting dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) enzyme to increase plasma concentration of incretins and their biologic effects. Because glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is an incretin hormone with various anti-diabetic actions including stimulation of glucose-induced insulin secretion, inhibition of glucagon secretion, hepatic glucose production and gastric emptying, it has been evaluated as a novel therapeutic agent for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). GLP-1 also manifests trophic effects on pancreas such as pancreatic beta cell growth and differentiation. Because DPP-4 is the enzyme responsible for the inactivation of GLP-1, DPP-4 inhibition represents another potential strategy to increase plasma concentration of GLP-1 to enhance the incretin effect. Thus, anti-diabetic properties of these two classes of drugs have stimulated substantial clinical interest in the potential of incretin-based therapeutic agents as a means to control glucose homeostasis in T2DM patients. Despite this fact, clinical use of GLP-1 mimetics and DPP-4 inhibitors have raised substantial concerns owing to possible side effects of the treatments involving increased risk for pancreatitis, and C-cell adenoma/carcinoma. Thus, controversial issues in incretin-based therapies under development are reviewed and discussed in this manuscript. Copyright (C) 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.