Defects in insulin stimulation of blood flow have been used suggested to contribute to insulin resistance. To directly test whether glucose uptake can be altered by changing blood flow, we infused bradykinin (27 microgram over 100 min), an endothelium-dependent vasodilator, into the femoral artery of 12 normal subjects (age 25+/-1 yr, body mass index 22+/-1 kg/m2) after an overnight fast (n = 5) and during normoglycemic hyperinsulinemic (n = 7) conditions (serum insulin 465+/-11 pmol/liter, 0-100 min). Blood flow was measured simultaneously in both femoral regions using [15O]-labeled water ([15O]H2O) and positron emission tomography (PET), before and during (50 min) the bradykinin infusion. Glucose uptake was measured immediately after the blood flow measurement simultaneously in both femoral regions using [18F]-fluoro-deoxy-glucose ([18F]FDG) and PET. During hyperinsulinemia, muscle blood flow was 58% higher in the bradykinin-infused (38+/-9 ml/kg muscle x min) than in the control leg (24+/-5, P<0.01). Femoral muscle glucose uptake was identical in both legs (60.6+/-9.5 vs. 58.7+/-9.0 micromol/kg x min, bradykinin-infused vs control leg, NS). Glucose extraction by skeletal muscle was 44% higher in the control (2.6+/-0.2 mmol/liter) than the bradykinin-infused leg (1.8+/-0.2 mmol/liter, P<0.01). When bradykinin was infused in the basal state, flow was 98% higher in the bradykinin-infused (58+/-12 ml/kg muscle x min) than the control leg (28+/-6 ml/kg muscle x min, P<0.01) but rates of muscle glucose uptake were identical in both legs (10.1+/-0.9 vs. 10.6+/-0.8 micromol/kg x min). We conclude that bradykinin increases skeletal muscle blood flow but not muscle glucose uptake in vivo. These data provide direct evidence against the hypothesis that blood flow is an independent regulator of insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in humans.