The glycogen content of astroglia-rich primary cultures derived from the brains of newborn rats depends on the concentration of glucose in the culture medium. After administration of culture medium lacking glucose, the glycogen content decreases with a half-time of 7 min. Readdition of glucose results in replenishment of the glycogen stores within 2-3 h, but fully only if glucose is present in a concentration of at least 4 mM. Insulin, or the more potent insulin-like growth factor I, increases the content of glycogen approximately 1.7-fold, with the half-maximal effects being attained at concentrations of 10 and 0.5 nM, respectively. These results suggest that (a) glucose or a metabolite of it and (b) insulin-like growth factor I or a closely related peptide, but not insulin, are likely to be physiological regulators of the level of glycogen in astrocytes.