With progressive ripeness there is a decrease in starch and an increase in free sugar content of bananas. The starch also is considered to be poorly digestible. Therefore, we decided to study plasma glucose, serum insulin, C-peptide, and plasma glucagon responses to bananas with increasing degrees of ripeness. Seven male subjects with untreated noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus ingested 50 g carbohydrate as bananas of stage 4 (more yellow than green), 5 (yellow with green tip), 6 (all yellow), and 7 (yellow flecked with brown) ripeness. They also received 50 glucose on two occasions for comparative purposes. On a separate occasion water only was given as a control. The area responses were quantified by determining incremental areas using the water control as baseline. The mean glucose area following the 50 g glucose meals was 15.1 +/- 1.9 mM.h. After the ingestion of bananas of 4, 5, 6 and 7 ripeness the glucose area response was 42, 41, 51 and 48% of that after glucose ingestion, respectively. The insulin area response following glucose meals was 888 pM.h. Responses to 4, 5, 6 and 7 bananas were 85, 70, 61, 85%, respectively, of that following glucose ingestion. C-peptide data were similar to the insulin data. The glucagon area response was negative after glucose ingestion but was positive following banana ingestion. In summary, the glucose, insulin, C-peptide, and glucagon area responses varied little with ripeness of the bananas.