When expressed in Xenopus oocytes, GLUT1, 2 and 4 transport glucosamine with V(max) values that are three- to four-fold lower than for glucose. The K(m)s for glucosamine and glucose of GLUT1 and GLUT4 were similar. In contrast, GLUT2 had a much higher apparent affinity for glucosamine than for glucose (K(m)=0.8+/-0.1 mM vs. approximately 17-20 mM). Glucosamine transport by GLUT2 was confirmed in mammalian cells and, using hepatocytes from control or GLUT2-null mice, HgCl(2)-inhibitable glucosamine uptake by liver was shown to be exclusively through GLUT2. These data have implications for glucosamine effects on impaired glucose metabolism and for structure-function studies of transporter sugar binding sites.