The effect of subchronic metformin treatment on food intake, weight gain and plasma and tissue hormone levels was investigated in genetically obese male Zucker rats and in their lean controls. Metformin hydrochloride (320 mg/kg/day for 14 days in the drinking water) significantly reduced 24 hour food intake both after one and two weeks treatment in obese rats. In contrast, metformin had only a transient effect on food intake in lean animals. The reduced food intake was associated with body weight decrease, particularly in obese rats. Metformin markedly reduced also the hyperinsulinemia of the obese animals without altering their plasma glucose or pancreatic insulin content which may reflect an improved insulin sensitivity after metformin treatment. Metformin did not change plasma corticosterone levels or insulin and somatostatin concentrations in the pancreas. Metformin reduced pyloric region somatostatin content in lean rats. It is concluded that metformin has an anorectic effect and reduces body weight and hyperinsulinemia in genetically obese Zucker rat.