The effects of the fatty acid inhibitor 4-bromocrotonic acid (4-BCA) on glucose utilization was studied in isolated rat myocytes. In contrast to its potent inhibition of [1-14C]palmitate oxidation, 4-BCA strongly stimulated the oxidation of [1-14C]glucose and [2-14C]-pyruvate in a concentration-dependent manner. At a concentration of 300 microM, 4-BCA increased glucose oxidation threefold and that of pyruvate oxidation twofold. The rate of transport of [U-14C]-2-deoxyglucose was significantly stimulated by 4-BCA. The transport of 2-deoxyglucose was increased sevenfold with 200 microM 4-BCA, whereas insulin (10 microU)/ml enhanced 2-deoxyglucose transport twofold. The addition of insulin to myocytes preincubated with 4-BCA did not further increase glucose transport. Cytochalasin B and anti-GLUT 4 antibody decreased the 4-BCA-induced stimulation of glucose transport. These results suggest that the stimulation of 2-deoxy-glucose transport by 4-BCA occurs through an increase in the activity of insulin-responsive glucose transporters, GLUT 4, in the sarcolemmal membrane.