Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) plays an important role in energy homoeostasis. The unaddressed question of FGF21's effect on the development and progression of diabetic cardiomyopathy (DCM) is investigated here with FGF21 knockout (FGF21KO) diabetic mice. Type 1 diabetes was induced in both FGF21KO and C57BL/6J wild-type (WT) mice via streptozotocin. At 1, 2 and 4 months after diabetes onset, the plasma FGF21 levels were significantly decreased in WT diabetic mice compared to controls. There was no significant difference between FGF21KO and WT diabetic mice in blood glucose and triglyceride levels. FGF21KO diabetic mice showed earlier and more severe cardiac dysfunction, remodelling and oxidative stress, as well as greater increase in cardiac lipid accumulation than WT diabetic mice. Western blots showed that increased cardiac lipid accumulation was accompanied by further increases in the expression of nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) and its target protein CD36, along with decreases in the phosphorylation of AMP-activated protein kinase and the expression of hexokinase II and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma co-activator 1α in the heart of FGF21KO diabetic mice compared to WT diabetic mice. Our results demonstrate that FGF21 deletion-aggravated cardiac lipid accumulation is likely mediated by cardiac Nrf2-driven CD36 up-regulation, which may contribute to the increased cardiac oxidative stress and remodelling, and the eventual development of DCM. These findings suggest that FGF21 may be a therapeutic target for the treatment of DCM.