Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is a chronic microvascular complication of diabetes. The purpose of this study is to find the underlying mechanism for the effects of acupuncture in DPN rats. Rats were rendered diabetic with a single injection of 35 mg/kg streptozotocin (STZ). These STZ-diabetic rats were treated with acupuncture for 20 min once daily. The therapeutic efficacy of acupuncture was assessed using mechanical withdrawal threshold (MWT) and thermal withdrawal latency (TWL) evaluations. After 14 days treatment, acupuncture markedly reduced the pathological injury in STZ-diabetic rats. Moreover, it significantly down-regulated P2X4 and OX42 expression along with the reduced levels of inflammatory factors (CXCR3, TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6), GSP and lipid metabolisms in the spinal cord of the DPN rats. Acupuncture could relieve DPN in rats by regulating P2X4 expression and inflammation in spinal microglia.