Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) is acutely stimulated by insulin but its role in regulating glucose metabolism is still not fully understood. Insulin acutely stimulates glucose transport into L6 myotubes approximately 2-fold, and activates PI 3-kinase activity 2 to 3-fold. Wortmannin, an inhibitor of PI 3-kinase, blocked insulin stimulation of 2-deoxyglucose transport into the myotubes in a time and dose-dependent manner. Inhibition was observed within 5 minutes and was complete by 30 minutes. The IC50 for this inhibition was approximately 10 nM; almost complete inhibition was observed at 100 nM. Similarly, insulin stimulation of PI 3-kinase activity was inhibited by wortmannin in a dose-dependent manner. The insulinmimetic vanadate activated hexose transport into the myotubes to more than 50% of the maximal level attained with insulin. Only approximately 60% of vanadate-activated glucose transport was inhibited by maximal wortmannin concentrations. It is concluded that insulin activation of PI 3-kinase is necessary for stimulation of glucose transport into L6 muscle cells. In contrast, vanadate appears to augment transport by acting upon PI 3-kinase-dependent and independent pathways.