Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), which is characterized by insulin resistance and relative insulin insufficiency, has become the most common chronic metabolic disease threatening global health. The preferred therapies for T2DM include lifestyle interventions and the use of anti-diabetic drugs. However, considering their adverse reactions, it is important to find a low-toxicity and effective functional food or drug for diabetes prevention and treatment. Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant carotenoid found in marine organisms has been reported to prevent diet-induced insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis. To investigate the anti-diabetic effects of astaxanthin, male Wistar rats were fed a high-energy diet for 4 weeks, followed by a low dose streptozotocin (STZ) injection to induce the diabetes model, and the rats were then fed an astaxanthin-containing diet for another 3 weeks. Astaxanthin significantly decreased blood glucose and total cholesterol (TC) levels, and increased blood levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) in STZ-induced diabetic rats in a dose dependent manner. These results were associated with increased expression of insulin sensitivity related genes (adiponectin, adipoR1, and adipoR2) in vivo, thereby attenuating STZ-induced diabetes. In addition, we also compared the anti-diabetic effects of astaxanthin and monacolin K, which has been reported to downregulate hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia. The results revealed that astaxanthin and monacolin K showed similar anti-diabetic effects in STZ-induced diabetic rats. Therefore, astaxanthin may be developed as an anti-diabetic agent in the future.