Rats were rendered diabetic by streptozotocin, after which serum glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) levels, duodenal mucosal GIP content, and GIP mRNA levels were nine times, 50% and 80%, respectively, greater than in control rats. To determine whether an increase in GIP gene expression might induce chronic desensitization of its receptor, normal rats were subjected to continuous intravenous GIP infusion. Serum GIP levels increased gradually in GIP-infused rats, and by 4 h a threefold increase was detected. In response to GIP infusion, the serum insulin concentration increased at 30 min, followed by a gradual decrease, and at 4 h, no increase in insulin levels was detected despite a sustained elevated serum GIP level. The response to glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) was preserved, a reporter cell line (LGIPR2) stably transfected with rat GIP receptor cDNA was studied. GIP stimulated adenosine 3', 5'-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP) production in LGIPR2 cells, which was first detected after 1 h of stimulation, reached maximum level at 4 h, and returned to basal concentrations by 16 h. Additional stimulation with GIP at 16 h did not affect cAMP generation, indicating desensitization of the GIP receptor by the ligand. In contrast, a response to prostaglandin E1 or forskolin in GIP-desensitization was a receptor-specific process. The results of these studies indicate that GIP gene expression is enhanced in diabetic animals and that elevated serum GIP level induces chronic desensitization of the GIP receptor in vivo and in a stably transfected cell line.