The effect of elevated plasma insulin concentration (55 +/- 2 mU/l) on peripheral clearance and production of total ketone bodies was determined using 3-14C-acetoacetate tracer infusions. Nine normal subjects were studied twice, once during insulin infusion (20 mU.m-2.min-1), once during basal plasma insulin concentrations (controls). Blood total ketone body concentrations (sum of acetone, acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate) were maintained in both studies at 2 mmol/l by feedback-controlled sodium acetoacetate infusions. The coefficient of variation of total ketone body concentrations during the two clamp studies was 10 and 11% respectively. The sodium acetoacetate infusion rate required during the clamp was 55 +/- 4% higher during hyperinsulinaemia than in controls (p less than 0.005). This was due to increased total ketone body clearance (8.4 +/- 0.7 vs 6.7 +/- 0.4 ml.kg-1.min-1, p less than 0.015), and to enhanced suppression of ketone body production (p less than 0.01). Hyperketonaemia alone decreased ketone body production by 42% and diminished ketone body clearance by 46%, the former being enhanced, the latter being in part antagonised by insulin. Since the plasma insulin concentrations were within those observed in patients treated for diabetic ketoacidosis, the data suggest that the antiketotic effect of insulin therapy results in part from an increase in peripheral ketone body disposal.