The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of magnesium supplementation on glucose uptake and substrate oxidation in noninsulin-dependent (type II) diabetic patients. Nine elderly non-obese noninsulin-dependent (type II) diabetic patients, treated by diet only, participated in the study, which was designed as randomized, double blind, and cross-over. Each patient was followed up for a prestudy period of 3 weeks before inviting him/her to receive placebo or magnesium supplementation (15.8 mmol/day) for 4 weeks. At the end of each treatment period, a euglycemic hyperinsulinemic glucose clamp with simultaneous D-[3-3H]glucose infusion and indirect calorimetry was performed. Magnesium supplementation resulted in significantly increased plasma and erythrocyte magnesium levels, whereas body weight and fasting plasma glucose did not change. In the last 60 min of the glucose clamp, insulin-mediated glucose disappearance, total body glucose disposal (24.5 +/- 0.4 vs. 28.2 +/- 0.7 mumol/kg.min; P < 0.005), and glucose oxidation (13.0 +/- 0.4 vs. 16.3 +/- 0.8 mumol/kg.min; P < 0.01) were increased after chronic magnesium supplementation. Endogenous glucose production, nonoxidative glucose disposal, lipid and protein oxidation, and insulin MCR were not affected. In conclusion, a 4-week magnesium supplementation improves insulin sensitivity and glucose oxidation in the course of a euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic glucose clamp in noninsulin-dependent diabetic patients. Long term studies are needed to determine whether magnesium supplementation is useful in the management of type II diabetes.