Studies were performed to determine whether hypoglycemia or the glucagon response to hypoglycemia increases uric acid production in glycogen storage disease type I (glucose-6-phosphatase deficiency). Three adults with this disease had hyperuricemia (serum urate, 11.3-12.4 mg/dl) and reduced renal clearance of urate (renal urate clearance, 1.1-3.1 ml/min). These abnormalities were improved in one patient by intravenous glucose infusion for 1 mo, suggesting a role for hypoglycemia and its attendant effects on urate metabolism and excretion. A pharmacologic dose of glucagon caused a rise in serum urate from 11.4 to 13.0 mg/dl, a ninefold increase in urinary excretion of oxypurines, a 65% increase in urinary radioactivity derived from radioactively labeled adenine nucleotides, and a 90% increase in urinary uric acid excretion. These changes indicate that intravenous glucagon increases ATP breakdown to its degradation products and thereby stimulates uric acid production. To observe whether physiologic changes in serum glucagon modulate ATP degradation, uric acid production was compared during saline and somatostatin infusions. Serum urate, urinary oxypurine, radioactivity, and uric acid excretion increased during saline infusion as patients became hypoglycemic. Infusion of somatostatin suppressed these increases despite hypoglycemia and decreased the elevated plasma glucagon levels from a mean of 81.3 to 52.2 pg/ml. These data suggest that hypoglycemia can stimulate uric acid synthesis in glucose-6-phosphatase deficiency. Glucagon contributes to this response by activating ATP degradation to uric acid.