The plasma cholecystokinin (CCK) response to a test meal was studied in 16 control subjects and 15 patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Basal CCK levels were approximately 1 pmol in both groups. However, after the test meal, plasma CCK levels were 2-fold greater in the controls when compared to the diabetics. In controls, CCK levels maximally increased by 5.6 +/- 0.8 pmol (mean +/- SEM) 10 min after feeding, whereas in the NIDDM patients this value was 1.9 +/- 0.6 pmol (P < 0.001). After the test meal, the normal subjects showed no postprandial rise in blood glucose, whereas the diabetic patient showed a rise of 2.6 +/- 0.7 mmol. To determine whether the decreased CCK levels may have been related to the postprandial hyperglycemia, 7 diabetic subjects were infused with CCK. With this CCK infusion, postprandial glucose levels did not rise. These data suggest, therefore: 1) a role for cholecystokinin in regulating postprandial hyperglycemia in man, 2) abnormalities in CCK secretion occur in NIDDM and may contribute to the hyperglycemia seen in this disease.