The first goal of this study was to investigate whether totally pancreatectomized patients are glucagon deficient and if so, to what degree. Immunoreactive glucagon (IRG) concentrations in peripheral plasma of nine pancreatectomized patients were not significantly different from those of 10 normal controls as measured by two antisera (30-K and RCS-5) both detecting the COOH-terminal portion of the molecule and one (RCS-5) postulated to be specific for pancreatic glucagon. Plasma from six of nine pancreatectomized patients were fractionated over Sephadex G-50 and IRG was measured with both antisera in the column eluates. Using 30-K, 80.8 +/- 9% of the IRG eluted within the void volume. This material was rechromatographed on Sephadex G-200 and found to have an apparent mol wt of approximately 200,000. Only 18.3 +/- 9% eluted in the IRG3500 region. IRG3500 was significantly reduced in pancreatectomized patients as compared to normal controls (49 +/- 9 vs. 18 +/- 9 pg/ml, P less than 0.05). Using RCS-5, all IRG (corresponding to 20 +/- 6 pg/ml of plasma) eluted in the IRG3500 region. The second goal of this study was to investigate the effects of chronic glucagon deficiency on plasma amino acids. In the nine pancreatectomized patients studied, postabsorptive plasma concentrations of serine, alanine, arginine, glycine, threonine, citrulline, alpha-aminobutyrate, and tryosine were significantly elevated compared to values obtained from 20 normal controls. Physiological glucagon increments produced in two pancreatectomized patients by infusion of glucagon (6.25 and 8.0 microgram/h, respectively) resulted in normalization of the hyperaminoacidemia within 22 h. We conclude (a) that pancreatectomized patients are partially glucagon deficient because of diminished basal as well as diminished stimulated glucagon secretion; (b) that fasting concentrations of certain glucogenic amino acids are elevated in pancreatectomized patients probably as result of reduce; hepatic gluconeogenesis; and (c) that the RCS-5 antiserum is not "pancreatic glucagon" specific.