IL-1, a cytokine produced predominantly by cell from the macrophage lineage, can affect multiple neuroendocrine and metabolic functions. We report here effects of this cytokine in obese, diabetic Zucker fa/fa rats. These animals are modestly hyperglycemic, hyper-lipemic, and markedly hyperinsulinemic. Changes in the levels of glucose, lactate, triglycerides, free fatty acids, insulin, glucagon, and corticosterone were detected following a single intraperitoneal or intravenous injection of IL-1 into fa/fa rats. No comparable changes were observed following administration of insulin. In fa/fa rats, the diabetic status is particularly manifested by an abnormal glucose tolerance. Administration of a bolus injection of IL-1 normalized the response of diabetic fa/fa rats to a glucose load. These rats not only returned to their basal glucose levels quicker, but reached glucose concentrations in blood which were comparable to, or even lower than those of Fa/? rats. Although the mechanism underlying the effects of IL-1 in fa/fa rats are presently not clear, the results obtained suggest that this cytokine tends to normalize glucose homeostasis and stimulate fat mobilization in these animals.