The nutrient-dependent glucagon-like peptide-1 (7-36) amide (GLP-1) release was studied in comparison to the glucose-dependent insulin-releasing polypeptide (GIP) response in 10 healthy volunteers each undergoing various protocols. Plasma samples were saved up to 120 min after challenges by oral, intravenous or intraduodenal administration of nutrients. Basal plasma-GLP-1 concentrations ranged between 0.4 and 1.4 pM, maximal postprandial GLP-1 levels peaked between 10 and 12 pM. Intravenous glucose (25 g i.v.) did not change basal GLP-1 levels. Oral administration of glucose (50 g) induced a biphasic GLP-1 release peaking at 30-60 min and a biphasic GIP release peaking at 5 and 45 min. This increase paralleled the secretion of insulin. Oral galactose (100 g) and amino acids (25 g) also induced a rapid plasma GLP-1 response. After fat (67 g corn oil) a strong and long-lasting (> 120 min) increase of GLP-1 plasma levels occurred. When a mixed liquid meal was given (6 g soybean oil, 5 g casein, 13 g glucose) immunoreactive (IR)-GLP-1 rapidly increased and peaked after 5 min with declining levels after 30 min. In response to an intraduodenal infusion of a small glucose load (5.34 g within 120 min) a rapid, short-lasting GLP-1 response occurred whereas plasma GIP and insulin levels remained unaltered. Luminal perfusion of an isolated vascularly perfused rat ileum with a polydiet induced a rapid rise of portally released IR-GLP-1 which was followed by a sustained release. Glucose evoked sodium-dependently a sharp increase of IR-GLP-1 levels followed by a plateau release. The intraluminal infusion of a mixture of amino acids or fat was without any effect on IR-GLP-1. We hypothesize that in contrast to GIP the GLP-1 release from L cells is triggered by nervous reflexes, by putative humoral factor(s) being released from the upper small intestine in addition to nutrient stimuli acting at the luminal surface of the gut.