Acute exercise induces glucose uptake in skeletal muscle in vivo, but the molecular mechanism of this phenomenon remains to be identified. In this study, we evaluated the involvement of bradykinin in exercise-induced glucose uptake in humans and rats. In human studies, plasma bradykinin concentrations increased significantly during an ergometer exercise (20 minutes) in 8 healthy normoglycemic subjects and 6 well-controlled type 2 diabetic patients (mean hemoglobin A1c [HbA1c], 6.4% +/- 0.6%), but not in 6 poorly controlled type 2 diabetics (mean HbA1c, 11.6% +/- 2.6%). In rat studies, plasma bradykinin concentrations also significantly increased after 1 hour of swimming in nondiabetic and mildly diabetic (streptozotocin [STZ] 45 mg/kg intravenously [IV]) rats, but not in rats with severe diabetes (STZ 65 mg/kg IV). Glucose influx (maximum velocity [Vmax]) and GLUT-4 translocation in skeletal muscle of nondiabetic rats significantly increased after 1 hour of swimming, but these increases were abrogated by subcutaneous infusion of bradykinin B2 receptor antagonist HOE-140 (400 microg x kg(-1) x d(-1)). Insulin-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation and phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3-kinase activity in response to insulin injection (20 U/kg IV) in the portal vein were significantly attenuated in exercised rats pretreated with HOE-140 compared with saline-treated exercised rats. Our results suggest that plasma bradykinin concentrations increase in response to acute exercise and this increase is affected by blood glucose status in diabetic patients. Moreover, the exercise-induced increase in bradykinin may be involved in modulating exercise-induced glucose transport through an increase of GLUT-4 translocation, as well as enhancement of the insulin signal pathway, during the postexercise period in skeletal muscle, resulting in a decrease of blood glucose.