Glucose concentration in the liquid present in the alveolar/airway lumen is the consequence of the balance between removal by lung epithelial cells and entry from the plasma or lung interstitium through the paracellular pathway. Glucose removal is mediated by active, Na(+) -dependent, cotransport and results in transepithelial Na(+) transport and liquid absorption in animals with significant rates of luminal glucose uptake and when luminal glucose concentration is high enough. Cotransport kinetics predicted a low luminal glucose concentration at the steady state, and foetal lung fluid and adult alveolar epithelial lining fluid glucose concentrations were indeed found lower than plasma. When luminal glucose concentration is low, the glucose-dependent part of transepithelial Na(+) transport is abated and alveolar liquid clearance reduced. A means to refuel this mechanism of liquid absorption would be to increase glucose entry in alveolar spaces through an increase in paracellular permeability. This hypothesis was modelled, and experimental data were found to acceptably agree with predictions.