The determination of several of aldose reductase-inhibitor complexes at subatomic resolution has revealed new structural details, including the specific interatomic contacts involved in inhibitor binding. In this article, we review the structures of the complexes of ALR2 with IDD 594 (resolution: 0.66 Å, IC50 (concentration of the inhibitor that produced half-maximal effect): 30 nM, space group: P21), IDD 393 (resolution: 0.90 Å, IC50: 6 nM, space group: P1), fidarestat (resolution: 0.92 Å, IC50: 9 nM, space group: P21) and minalrestat (resolution: 1.10 Å, IC50: 73 nM, space group: P1). The structures are compared and found to be highly reproductible within the same space group (root mean square (RMS) deviations: 0.15 ∼ 0.3 Å). The mode of binding of the carboxylate inhibitors IDD 594 and IDD 393 is analysed. The binding of the carboxylate head can be accurately determined by the subatomic resolution structures, since both the protonation states and the positions of the atoms are very precisely known. The differences appear in the binding in the specificity pocket. The high-resolution structures explain the differences in IC50, which are confirmed both experimentally by mass spectrometry measures of VC50 and theoretically by free energy perturbation calculations. The binding of the cyclic imide inhibitors fidarestat and minalrestat is also described, focusing on the observation of a Cl- ion which binds simultaneously with fidarestat. The presence of this anion, binding also to the active site residue His110, leads to a mechanism in which the inhibitor can bind in a neutral state and then become charged inside the active site pocket. This mechanism can explain the excellent in vivo properties of cyclic imide inhibitors. In summary, the complete and detailed information supplied by the subatomic resolution structures can explain the differences in binding energy of the different inhibitors.