The dried sap of the aloe plant (aloes) is one of several traditional remedies used for diabetes in the Arabian peninsula. Its ability to lower the blood glucose was studied in 5 patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes and in Swiss albino mice made diabetic using alloxan. During the ingestion of aloes, half a teaspoonful daily for 4-14 weeks, the fasting serum glucose level fell in every patient from a mean of 273 +/- 25 (SE) to 151 +/- 23 mg/dl (p less than 0.05) with no change in body weight. In normal mice, both glibenclamide (10 mg/kg twice daily) and aloes (500 mg/kg twice daily) induced hypoglycaemia after 5 days, 71 +/- 6.2 and 91 +/- 7.6 mg/dl, respectively, versus 130 +/- 7 mg/dl in control animals (p less than 0.01); only glibenclamide was effective after 3 days. In the diabetic mice, fasting plasma glucose was significantly reduced by glibenclamide and aloes after 3 days. Thereafter only aloes was effective and by day 7 the plasma glucose was 394 +/- 22.0 versus 646 +/- 35.9 mg/dl, in the controls and 726 +/- 30.9 mg/dl in the glibenclamide treated group (p less than 0.01). We conclude that aloes contains a hypoglycaemic agent which lowers the blood glucose by as yet unknown mechanisms.