Amylin/insulin secretory ratios were determined in nine morbidly obese subjects consenting to portal venous catheterization at the time of gastric bypass surgery. By subtracting recirculating insulin and amylin concentrations (arterial values) from portal venous hormone concentrations, instantaneous amylin/insulin secretory ratios could be determined before and after iv glucose administration. Baseline portal venous amylin levels were 32% higher than peripheral concentrations (7.3 +/- 0.8 vs. 5.6 +/- 0.6 pmol/L). Portal venous amylin and insulin concentrations peak 90 s after the initiation of a 2-min glucose infusion. When instantaneously secreted amylin and insulin were compared at each of the eight time points, a highly significant correlation was observed in seven of the nine subjects. However, large interindividual variations in amylin/insulin secretory ratios were observed, with molar ratios from 0.2-1.6%. The amylin/insulin secretory ratios calculated at the time of surgery varied inversely (r = -0.89; P < 0.001) with glucose disappearance rates obtained 5-7 months later after 19- to 29-kg weight loss. These data corroborate those obtained from animal studies and indicate that amylin and insulin are cosecreted in man. Despite evidence for cosecretion of amylin and insulin, the large intersubject variation in amylin/insulin secretory ratios and its inverse correlation with glucose disappearance rates suggest a constitutional factor that may either play a role in the pathogenesis of carbohydrate intolerance or result from it.