The metabolic effects of a three-month treatment with a high-fiber diet (15 grams of guar-gum added to a standard diet) were investigated in seven type 1 diabetic subjects, with a moderately poor metabolic control. HbA1c levels, daily insulin requirement, cholesterol, triglyceride, amino acid and intermediate metabolite concentrations were evaluated before and following the high fiber diet, both in the postabsorptive state at euglycemia and during a euglycemic, hyperinsulinemic, hyperaminoacidemic clamp. Insulin-mediated glucose utilization, an index of insulin-sensitivity, was also measured during the clamp. Following the diet, no differences in HbA1c levels (7.6 +/- 0.7%----7.3 +/- 0.6%), daily insulin requirement (50 +/- 5----51 +/- 3 U/d), triglyceride, amino acid and intermediary metabolite concentrations in the basal, euglycemic state, were observed. Only cholesterol concentrations decreased significantly (from 165 +/- 12 to 142 +/- 12 mg/dl, P less than 0.01) after the diet. During the clamp, the concentrations of all measured substrates were comparable before and after high fiber treatment. Insulin-mediated glucose disposal was also unchanged by guar-gum treatment. Patients' body weights were not modified by the diet. In conclusion, our study shows that a high fiber diet, obtained with the addition of 15 grams of guar-gum to a standard diet, is of no benefit to IDDM either as regards the metabolic control or insulin sensitivity. Only cholesterol levels were decreased. Therefore, the costs and benefits of these diets in the treatment of IDDM should be reconsidered.