To investigate the effect of the ob gene in the heterozygous condition, plasma glucose and insulin responses of adult heterozygous lean (ob/+) mice were compared with mice of the homozygous lean (+/+) and homozygous obese (ob/ob) genotypes. The ob/+ mice consumed 24% more food than +/+ mice although body weights were similar. Plasma glucose and insulin concentrations were respectively 16% and 176% higher in ob/+ mice than +/+ mice in the freely fed state, and 44% and 88% higher during glucose tolerance tests. In 24 hour fasted ob/+ mice, plasma glucose concentrations were 23% higher than +/+ mice but plasma insulin concentrations were not significantly different. Arginine produced a greater insulin response (172%) and a greater fall in glycaemia (200%) in ob/+ mice. A significant difference in the hypoglycaemic effect of insulin in ob/+ and +/+ mice was not observed. These results demonstrate an effect of the ob gene on glucose homeostasis in heterozygous lean (ob/+) mice. The abnormalities were qualitatively similar but considerably less severe than those in ob/ob mice, suggesting that ob/+ mice might prove useful to study factors predisposing to inappropriate hyperglycaemia.