The stimulation of insulin vs. inhibition of glucagon secretion in relation to the antidiabetic action of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is not established. Here, the influence of a 4-wk increase in circulating GLP-1 by inhibition of dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) on 24-h glucose and insulin and glucagon responses to breakfast was studied in subjects with dietary controlled diabetes [age: 65 +/- 8 yr (SD), body mass index: 27.3 +/- 3.3 kg/m(2), fasting plasma glucose: 9.0 +/- 1.3 mmol/liter]. Compared with placebo (n = 19), a specific DPP-4 inhibitor [(1-[[(3-hydroxy-1-adamantyl) amino] acetyl]-2-cyano-(S)-pyrrolidine) (LAF237); 100 mg daily, n = 18] reduced fasting glucose by 0.70 mmol/liter (P = 0.037), 4-h prandial glucose excursion by 1.45 mmol/liter (P < 0.001), and mean 24-h glucose by 0.93 mmol/liter (P < 0.001). Baseline and postprandial active GLP-1 were increased by LAF237. The glucagon response to breakfast was reduced by LAF237 (glucagon levels at 60 min were 88 +/- 8 pg/ml before treatment vs. 77 +/- 5 pg/ml after; P = 0.001). In contrast, the overall insulin levels were not altered. The 4-wk reduction in glucagon correlated with the reduction in 2-h glucose (r = 0.61; P = 0.008). No such association was observed for insulin. Thus, improved metabolic control by DPP-4 inhibition in type 2 diabetes is seen in association with reduced glucagon levels and, despite the lower glycemia, unaltered insulin levels.