It has been shown recently that glutamine is taken up by the mouse kidney in vivo. However, knowledge about the fate of this amino acid and the regulation of its metabolism in the mouse kidney remains poor. Given the physiological and pathophysiological importance of renal glutamine metabolism and the increasing use of genetically modified mice in biological research, we have conducted a study to characterize glutamine metabolism in the mouse kidney. Proximal tubules isolated from fed and 48 h-starved mice and then incubated with a physiological concentration of glutamine, removed this amino acid and produced ammonium ions at similar rates. In agreement with this observation, activities of the ammoniagenic enzymes, glutaminase and glutamate dehydrogenase, were not different in the renal cortex of fed and starved mice, but the glutamate dehydrogenase mRNA level was elevated 4.5-fold in the renal cortex from starved mice. In contrast, glucose production from glutamine was greatly stimulated whereas the glutamine carbon removed, that was presumably completely oxidized in tubules from fed mice, was virtually suppressed in tubules from starved animals. In accordance with the starvation-induced stimulation of glutamine gluconeogenesis, the activities and mRNA levels of glucose-6-phosphatase, and especially of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, but not of fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase, were increased in the renal cortex of starved mice. On the basis of our in vitro results, the elevated urinary excretion of ammonium ions observed in starved mice probably reflected an increased transport of these ions into the urine at the expense of those released into the renal veins rather than a stimulation of renal ammoniagenesis.