To determine whether fasting alters the ability of insulin to suppress endogenous glucose production or proteolysis, isotopic flux measurements of glucose, leucine, alpha-keto-isocaproate, and alanine were made in 13 normal volunteers after a 14-h (day 1) and an 84-h (day 4) fast. Using the "pancreatic clamp" technique, we achieved small increments in plasma insulin concentrations, as well as constant and identical plasma hormone and glucose concentrations, on both study days in seven subjects. The remaining six subjects were infused with saline and served as controls. Leucine rate of appearance (an index of proteolysis) was greater on day 4 than on day 1 (P less than 0.001), but decreased to equal values during the pancreatic clamp on each study day. During the pancreatic clamp, endogenous glucose production decreased to lesser (P less than 0.005) values on day 4 than on day 1. In conclusion, insulin suppresses proteolysis equally well before and after brief fasting, and endogenous glucose production is more completely suppressed by insulin after brief fasting than after an overnight fast.