ZSF1 rats exhibit spontaneous nephropathy secondary to obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, and have gained interest as a model system with potentially high translational value to progressive human disease. To thoroughly characterize this model, and to better understand how closely it recapitulates human disease, we performed a high resolution longitudinal analysis of renal disease progression in ZSF1 rats spanning from early disease to end stage renal disease. Analyses included metabolic endpoints, renal histology and ultrastructure, evaluation of a urinary biomarker of fibrosis, and transcriptome analysis of glomerular-enriched tissue over the course of disease. Our findings support the translational value of the ZSF1 rat model, and are provided here to assist researchers in the determination of the model's suitability for testing a particular mechanism of interest, the design of therapeutic intervention studies, and the identification of new targets and biomarkers for type 2 diabetic nephropathy.