Abstract Background Cystatin C (CysC) is an endogenous cysteine protease inhibitor that can be used to assess the progression of kidney function. Recent studies demonstrate that CysC is a more specific indicator of glomerular filtration rate (GFR) than creatinine. CysC in plasma exists in multiple proteoforms. The goal of this study was to clarify the association of native CysC, CysC missing N-terminal Serine (CysC des-S), and CysC without three N-terminal residues (CysC des-SSP) with diabetic chronic kidney disease (CKD). Results Using mass spectrometric immunoassay, the plasma concentrations of native CysC and the two CysC truncation proteoforms were examined in 111 individuals from three groups: 33 non-diabetic controls, 34 participants with type 2 diabetes (DM) and without CKD and 44 participants with diabetic CKD. Native CysC concentrations were 1.4 fold greater in CKD compared to DM group (p = 0.02) and 1.5 fold greater in CKD compared to the control group (p = 0.001). CysC des-S concentrations were 1.55 fold greater in CKD compared to the DM group (p = 0.002) and 1.9 fold greater in CKD compared to the control group (p = 0.0002). CysC des-SSP concentrations were 1.8 fold greater in CKD compared to the DM group (p = 0.008) and 1.52 fold greater in CKD compared to the control group (p = 0.002). In addition, the concentrations of CysC proteoforms were greater in the setting of albuminuria. The truncated CysC proteoform concentrations were associated with estimated GFR independent of native CysC concentrations. Conclusion Our findings demonstrate a greater amount of CysC proteoforms in diabetic CKD. We therefore suggest assessing the role of cystatin C proteoforms in the progression of CKD.