To establish the ideal insulin delivery route for an artificial endocrine pancreas, we examined the effectiveness of closed-loop portal insulin delivery. We investigated the effects of the route of insulin delivery on net hepatic glucose balance (NHGB) in dogs under pancreatic clamp conditions with somatostatin plus basal glucagon and insulin infusions. A constant rate of suprabasal insulin was infused via the portal vein or a peripheral vein, and glucose was infused into the portal vein for 180 min. The mean net hepatic glucose uptake (NHGU) values in the portal insulin infusion group (PI group) were significantly greater than those in the peripheral venous insulin infusion group (VI group); the changes from the baseline values at 180 min were 3.54 +/- 0.66 and 2.45 +/- 0.82 mg kg(-1) min(-1) in the PI and VI groups, respectively, P < 0.05. Furthermore, dogs under pancreatic clamp conditions were controlled after a 2-g/kg oral glucose load by applying the closed-loop intraportal (PO) or intravenous (IV) insulin infusion algorithm. There were no significant differences in glycemic control and insulin requirements between these algorithms. However, the maximum peripheral venous and arterial plasma insulin concentrations with the PO algorithm were significantly lower than those with the IV algorithm [305.1 +/- 68.9 and 468.1 +/- 66.9 pmol/l (peripheral vein) and 305.3 +/- 62.9 and 469.6 +/- 85.1 pmol/l (artery) with the PO and IV algorithms, respectively, P < 0.05]. On the other hand, the maximum portal plasma insulin concentration with the PO algorithm was significantly higher than that with the IV algorithm (619.9 +/- 101.7 and 414.3 +/- 79.9 pmol/l with the PO and IV algorithms, respectively, P < 0.05). The mean NHGU values with the PO algorithm were significantly greater than those with the IV algorithm. Our results confirmed that closed-loop portal insulin delivery is feasible with regard to both insulin profiles and hepatic glucose handling in vivo, and indicated that the portal vein is the most suitable insulin delivery route for the artificial endocrine pancreas.