The combined actions of glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and truncated glucagon-like peptide-1 (tGLP-1) may fully account for the incretin effect. These hormones are released from the small intestine in response to oral glucose and stimulate insulin release. Recently, evidence has been provided demonstrating the degradation of GIP-(1-42) and GLP-1-(7-36)NH2 by the serum enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP IV) into the biologically inactive products GIP-(3-42) and GLP-1-(9-36)NH2. The objective of the current investigation was to develop a method to monitor the degradation of these hormones in vivo. Synthetic peptides were radiolabeled and purified by HPLC. Subsequent degradation of the peptides under various conditions was then monitored by further HPLC analysis. Incubation of [125I]GIP-(1-42) or [125I]GLP-1-(7-36)NH2 with Wistar rat serum or purified DPP IV resulted in the major N-terminal-truncated products [125I]GIP-(3-42) and [125I]GLP-1-(9-36)NH2. These products were significantly reduced when the specific DPP IV inhibitor diprotin A was included in the incubation mixture and were absent when serum from DPP IV-deficient rats was used. When the labeled peptides were infused into rats at hormone levels within the physiological range, over 50% was metabolized to the truncated forms within 2 min. These products were absent when the tracers were infused into DPP IV-deficient animals. It is concluded that DPP IV may be a primary inactivating enzyme of both GIP and tGLP-1 in vivo. As the N-terminal-truncated products of the DPP IV cleavage may not be distinguished from the biologically active hormone by currently employed assays, reports of circulating hormone levels should be reconsidered. The method described in this manuscript may be useful for investigating the durations of action of GIP and tGLP-1 in normal and pathophysiological conditions.