During the development of synthetic calcitonins for therapeutic use in bone disease, a "diabetogenic" (hyperglycemic) effect was observed, particularly with salmon calcitonin. The effect was attributed by some to inhibition of insulin secretion. We have recently reported high-affinity (28 pmol/L) amylin-binding sites in certain areas of rat brain, and found that these sites also bind salmon but not rat calcitonin with comparable high affinity. Rat amylin and salmon calcitonin have been determined to have significant structural homology. In vitro and in vivo studies indicate that rat amylin can exert calcitonin-like effects on osteoclasts and on plasma calcium. Here we report that salmon calcitonin mimics the actions of rat amylin on skeletal muscle glycogen metabolism in vitro; it stimulates glycogenolysis and inhibits incorporation of radiolabeled glucose into glycogen (50% effective concentration [EC50], 0.4 +/- 0.11 nmol/L log and 8.4 +/- 0.05 nmol/L log, respectively). In anesthetized rats, salmon calcitonin, like rat amylin, rapidly increases plasma lactate concentration, followed by a slower increase in glucose concentration. Like amylin, salmon calcitonin also inhibits the insulin response to 2 mmol infused glucose (insulin increments suppressed by 52% and 57% at 10 minutes for salmon calcitonin and amylin). Other shared actions, such as suppression of appetite, stimulation of renin secretion, inhibition of gastric acid secretion, and inhibition of gastric emptying, further affirm our proposal that the exogenous peptide, salmon calcitonin, is a mimic of endogenous amylin in the rat.