Vanadate has been found to be a potent inhibitor of both the hydrolytic and synthetic activities of the multifunctional enzyme glucose-6-phosphatase (D-glucose-6-phosphate phosphohydrolase, EC 18.104.22.168). The enzyme, when studied in both microsomal preparations and in situ using permeable isolated hepatocytes, is inhibited by micromolar concentrations of vanadate. The inhibition by vanadate is greater in detergent-treated than in untreated microsomes. In both the microsomal preparations and permeable hepatocytes, the inhibition by vanadate is competitive with the phosphate substrate and is greater for the phosphotransferase than the hydrolase activity of the enzyme. The Ki values of vanadate for carbamyl-phosphate : glucose phosphotransferase and glucose-6-phosphate phosphohydrolase determined with permeable hepatocytes are in good agreement with the values determined with detergent-dispersed microsomes. The previously described inhibition of glucose-6-phosphate phosphohydrolase by ATP (Nordlie, R.C., Hanson, T.L., Johns, P.T. and Lygre, D.G. (1968) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 60, 590-597) can now be explained by the vanadium contamination of the commercially available ATP samples used. In contrast with glucose-6-phosphatase, hepatic glucokinase and hexokinase were not inhibited by vanadate. Physiological implications and utilitarian experimental applicability of vanadate as a selective metabolic probe, based on these observations, are suggested.