The effect of a low-dose triphasic oral contraceptive (ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel) on glucose tolerance, plasma insulin and glucagon responses to glucose, fasting plasma cortisol, triglycerides, free fatty acids, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and very--low-density lipoprotein cholesterol was investigated in 16 women with previous gestational diabetes and in 19 normal women. Investigations were performed prior to the hormonal intake and after treatment for 2 and 6 months. Before treatment, the women with previous gestational diabetes had significantly elevated fasting glucose (p less than 0.05) and impaired glucose tolerance (p less than 0.05) when compared to those of the healthy control subjects. The glucose, insulin, and glucagon responses to oral glucose remained unchanged during the treatment period. Plasma cortisol increased in both groups (p less than 0.05) whereas plasma triglycerides increased in the control subjects only (p less than 0.05). Plasma free fatty acids, lipoproteins, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol/total cholesterol ratio remained unchanged in both groups. The results suggest that a low-dose triphasic oral contraceptive (ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel) is suitable as contraception even in women with a previous deterioration of glucose tolerance during pregnancy.