(1) Liraglutide is a long-acting GLP-1 derivative, designed for once daily administration in type II diabetic patients. To investigate the effects of liraglutide on glycemic control and beta-cell mass in rat models of beta-cell deficiencies, studies were performed in male Zucker diabetic fatty (ZDF) rats and in 60% pancreatectomized rats. (2) When liraglutide was dosed s.c. at 150 microg kg-1 b.i.d. for 6 weeks in ZDF rats 6-8 weeks of age at study start, diabetes development was markedly attenuated. Blood glucose was approximately 12 mm lower compared to vehicle (P<0.0002), and plasma insulin was 2-3-fold higher during a normal 24-h feeding period (P<0.001). Judged by pair feeding, approximately 53% of the antihyperglycemic effect observed on 24-h glucose profiles was mediated by a reduction in food intake, which persisted throughout the study and averaged 16% (P<0.02). (3) Histological analyses revealed that beta-cell mass and proliferation were significantly lower in prediabetic animals still normoglycemic after 2 weeks treatment compared to vehicle-treated animals that had begun to develop diabetes. When the treatment period was 6 weeks, the liraglutide-treated animals were no longer completely normoglycemic and the beta-cell mass was significantly increased compared to overtly diabetic vehicle-treated animals, while beta-cell proliferation was unaffected. (4) In the experiments with 60% pancreatectomized rats, 8 days treatment with liraglutide resulted in a significantly lower glucose excursion in response to oral glucose compared to vehicle treatment. Again, part of the antihyperglycemic effect was due to reduced food intake. No effect of liraglutide on beta-cell mass was observed in these virtually normoglycemic animals. (5) In conclusion, treatment with liraglutide has marked antihyperglycemic effects in rodent models of beta-cell deficiencies, and the in vivo effect of liraglutide on beta-cell mass may in part depend on the metabolic state of the animals.