The possibility of continuously monitoring the absolute glucose concentration in subcutaneous adipose tissue, using microdialysis of the extracellular water space, was investigated in six Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetic patients. By using a large microdialysis probe (30 x 0.62 mm), and by perfusing with a low flow rate (0.5 microliters/min), complete recovery of glucose was attained in vitro. In the patients the dialysis probe was implanted subcutaneously, perfused by a wearable microinfusion pump, and dialysate samples were collected in 60-min fractions over 10 h. The absolute glucose concentration in the tissue dialysate was the same or almost the same as the blood glucose concentration (range 87-101% of the blood glucose value). The changes in blood glucose were closely paralleled by the variations in adipose tissue glucose (r = 0.93, p < 0.01), and the recovery of glucose in the microdialysate remained constant during the 10-h study period. In conclusion, it is possible, using microdialysis, to directly determine the absolute glucose concentration in subcutaneous adipose tissue. Hence, this technique may be used for continuous glucose monitoring in diabetic patients.