The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of glutamine in promoting whole body carbohydrate storage and muscle glycogen resynthesis during recovery from exhaustive exercise. Postabsorptive subjects completed a glycogen-depleting exercise protocol, then consumed 330 ml of one of three drinks, 18.5% (wt/vol) glucose polymer solution, 8 g glutamine in 330 ml glucose polymer solution, or 8 g glutamine in 330 ml placebo, and also received a primed constant infusion of [1-13C]glucose for 2 h. Plasma glutamine concentration was increased after consumption of the glutamine drinks (0.7-1.1 mM, P < 0.05). In the second hour of recovery, whole body nonoxidative glucose disposal was increased by 25% after consumption of glutamine in addition to the glucose polymer (4.48 +/- 0.61 vs. 3.59 +/- 0.18 mmol/kg, P < 0.05). Oral glutamine alone promoted storage of muscle glycogen to an extent similar to oral glucose polymer. Ingestion of glutamine and glucose polymer together promoted the storage of carbohydrate outside of skeletal muscle, the most feasible site being the liver.