The effects of chromic chloride (CrCl3) administered orally for 12 weeks to five elderly subjects with glucose intolerance were assessed. Pretreatment and posttreatment, the hyperglycemic clamp technique was employed to determine glucose utilization, beta-cell sensitivity to glucose, and tissue sensitivity to insulin. In addition, erythrocyte insulin binding was studied. Urinary chromium excretion increased approximately 5 fold indicating good compliance with supplementation. The oral glucose tolerance curves following supplementation were lowered from 60 to 120 minutes but only the 60-minute values were significantly lowered. In agreement with this was significantly increased glucose utilization during the hyperglycemic clamp studies. Tissue sensitivity to insulin, receptor affinity, and total insulin binding were unchanged by supplementation while beta-cell sensitivity to glucose increased following supplementation (P less than 0.04), and explained the increased glucose utilization. HDL and LDL and total cholesterol levels were slightly lower after chromium supplementation, but no change reached statistical significance. The LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio was unchanged. This study shows small but statistically significant effects of CrCl3 on carbohydrate metabolism. The clinical relevance of these effects, that is, their prophylactic or therapeutic significance, remains to be determined.