We have studied the effects of fatty-acyl-CoA esters on the activity of glucose-6-phosphatase (Glc6Pase) in untreated and detergent-treated liver microsomes. Fatty-acyl-CoA esters with chain lengths less than or equal to nine carbons do not inhibit Glc6Pase. Medium-chain fatty-acyl-CoA esters (10-14 carbons) inhibit Glc6Pase of untreated microsomes in a dose-dependent manner in the range 1-20 microM. The inhibitory effect is also dependent on the acyl-chain length. The higher the chain length, the stronger the inhibitory effect. It is also dependent on the microsomal protein concentration. The higher the protein concentration, the lower the inhibitory effect. Fatty-acyl-CoA esters with longer chain length (equal to or higher than 16 carbons) inhibit Glc6Pase of untreated microsomes within the range 1-2 microM. However, the inhibitory effect is either partially or totally cancelled, or even changed into an activation effect at higher concentrations. This is due to the release of mannose-6-phosphatase latency. The inhibition is fully reversible in the presence of bovine serum albumin. The mechanism of the Glc6Pase inhibition in untreated microsomes is uncompetitive (Ki for myristoyl-CoA = 1.2 +/- 0.3 microM, mean +/- SD, n = 3). Glc6Pase of detergent-treated microsomes is also inhibited by fatty-acyl-CoA esters, albeit less efficiently. In this case, the mechanism is non-competitive (Ki for myristoyl-CoA = 29 +/- 3 microM).