The effects of an overexpressed, non-insulin-responsive gluconeogenic enzyme, phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (GTP) (PEPCK; EC 126.96.36.199), on glucose homeostasis were investigated. Transgenic rats harboring a metallothionein-driven PEPCK gene (lacking the entire PEPCK upstream-regulatory region) expressed transgene PEPCK mRNA in the key gluconeogenic tissues, liver and kidney. Female transgenic rats, studied at 10 weeks of age, showed mild fasting hyperglycemia (6.9 +/- 0.2 vs. 5.9 +/- 0.1 mM P = 0.002 n = 6), hyperinsulinemia (92.2 +/- 4.0 vs. 54.0 +/- 6.6 pM, P = 0.001, n = 6), impaired glucose tolerance and increased weight gain (178.3 +/- 3.2 vs. 153.4 +/- 2.5 g, P = 0.001, n = 16 and n = 13 transgenic and control rats, respectively). Despite hyperinsulinemia at this age, kidneys of transgenic rats maintained a significant 20% elevation of total PEPCK enzyme activity, while total liver PEPCK activity was not reduced. This study suggests that an insulin-resistant step in the gluconeogenic pathway can lead to glucose intolerance and an increase in weight. These rats offer the unique opportunity to study the metabolic consequences of chronic, mild excess glucose supply, as seen in non-insulin-dependent diabetes.