There are specific receptors for the active metabolite of vitamin D on the pancreatic beta cells and severe vitamin D deficiency can inhibit insulin secretion. In the present study 14 middle aged men with impaired glucose tolerance and low glucose-stimulated insulin values received 2 micrograms alphacalcidol daily for 18 months. On treatment there was a transient increase of both the peak and the late insulin response to intravenous glucose while neither intravenous nor oral glucose tolerance were consistently altered. Nor was the peripheral insulin sensitivity, measured by the euglycemic clamp technique, significantly affected. In the untreated state there was a positive relationship (r = 0.77) between the tissue insulin sensitivity and the serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. There was also an inverse relationship (r = 0.61) between systolic blood pressure and the serum levels of 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D. Although the subjects were normotensive and not overweight, treatment with alphacalcidol tended to lower both systolic (6 +/- 12 mmHg) and diastolic blood pressures (5.8 +/- 9.1 mmHg) and there was a small reduction (0.9 kg) in body weight. In conclusion, subjects with impaired glucose tolerance without vitamin D deficiency do not benefit from vitamin D supplementation, which however has some hypotensive action also in normotensive individuals.