We compared regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) and arteriojugular vein differences of glucose, ketones, glycerol, lactate, pyruvate, and O2 in eight subjects with well-controlled insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and in six healthy volunteers. Duration of diabetes was 19.4 +/- 2.1 yr. Measurements were performed before and after 120 min of insulin infusion and concomitant Biostator-controlled normoglycemia. Net uptake of ketones was seen in IDDM subjects before but not after insulin. Net uptake of glucose did not differ significantly between groups. During normoglycemia the molar ratio of O2 to glucose uptake was lower in IDDM than in nondiabetic subjects (4.68 vs. 5.50; P less than 0.05; Wilcoxon test). Small but significant release of lactate and pyruvate was seen in IDDM but not in nondiabetic subjects. The rCBF was measured by 11CH3F and position emission tomography. Global mean CBF was higher in IDDM subjects (64.9 +/- 5.9 vs. 49.3 +/- 2.7 ml.100 g-1.min-1, means +/- SE in nondiabetic subjects, P less than 0.05). rCBF was enhanced in many cortical and subcortical areas, whereas it was decreased in the head of the caudate nucleus. Neuropsychological testing did not reveal obvious cognitive dysfunction. The results imply that a larger fraction of glucose is nonoxidatively metabolized in the IDDM subjects and furthermore indicate an abnormal rCBF pattern in these subjects.