• Adolescents with diabetes have unique health needs, which impact upon their transition from children's health care services into adult health care services. • These health needs result from the precarious period in their lives, when they have to cope with the stresses of being a maturing person. This coincides with their move from the children's into the adult health care service. Whilst coping with these pressures they must also keep their diabetes under control. • The impact of emotional and physical demands upon the adolescent means that they are more susceptible to non-adherence, which may result in reduced diabetic control. • This literature review identifies some of the many barriers erected to the transition into the adult health care system; these barriers may be constructed by any one of the parties involved: the children's health care team, adult health care team, the adolescent or their family. • Principles of a successful transition are explored, along with the prerequisite qualities required of health care providers and the health care service.