The effects of two different plasma glucose concentrations (5 and 10 mmol/L) on lipolysis and ketogenesis during baseline and in response to epinephrine infusion were evaluated in insulin-dependent diabetic patients. Each insulin-dependent diabetic subject was studied during euglycemia, hyperglycemia with hypoinsulinemia, and hyperglycemia with hyperinsulinemia. Total ketone body (TKB) concentrations were significantly higher in hyperglycemic-hypoinsulinemic diabetics than in hyperglycemic-hyperinsulinemic and normoglycemic diabetics. Hyperglycemic-hyperinsulinemics had higher TKB concentrations than euglycemic diabetics. During epinephrine infusion, the ketone body rate of appearance and concentration significantly increased in all groups. Plasma FFA concentrations were significantly higher in hyperglycemic-hypoinsulinemic diabetics than in the other groups. During epinephrine infusion, the plasma FFA rate of appearance and concentration significantly increased in all groups. The apparent fraction of FFA converted to ketones was increased by epinephrine in all groups, except in hyperglycemic-hyperinsulinemic diabetics. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that although insulin alone decreases FFA and TKB concentrations, it does not affect the fraction of FFA converted to ketones. If hyperinsulinemia is superimposed on hyperglycemia, there is both a reduction of ketogenesis capacity, compared to hyperglycemia alone, and a decrease in the apparent fraction of FFA converted to ketone bodies.