At least two types of glucose transporter exist in cultured renal epithelial cells, a Na(+)-glucose cotransporter (SGLT), capable of interacting with D-glucose but not 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2dglc) and a facilitated transporter (GLUT) capable of interacting with both D-glucose and 2dglc. In order to examine the polarity of transport in cultured renal epithelia, 2dglc and D-glucose uptakes were measured in confluent cultures of LLC-PK1 cells grown on collagen-coated filters that permitted access of medium to both sides of the monolayer. The rates of basolateral uptake of both 1 mM glucose (Km 3.6 mM) and 1 mM 2dglc (Km 1.5 mM) were greater than apical uptake rates and the (apical-to-basolateral)/(basolateral-to-apical) flux ratio was high for glucose (9.4) and low for 2dglc (0.8), thus, confirming the lack of interaction of 2dglc with the apical SGLT. Specific glucose transport inhibitor studies using phlorizin, phloretin and cytochalasin B confirmed the polarised distribution of SGLT and GLUT in LLC-PK1 cells. Basolateral sugar uptake could be altered by addition of insulin (1 mU/ml) which increased 2dglc uptake by 72% and glucose uptake by 50% and by addition of 20 mM glucose to the medium during cell culture which decreased 2dglc uptake capacity at confluence by 30%. During growth to confluence, 2dglc uptake increased to a maximum, then decreased at the time of confluence, coincident with a rise in uptake capacity for alpha-methyl-D-glucoside, a hexose that interacts only with the apical SGLT. It was concluded that the non-metabolisable sugar 2dglc was a useful, specific probe for GLUT in LLC-PK1 cells and that GLUT was localised at the basolateral membrane after confluence.