The rate of appearance (Ra) of glucose in plasma and the contribution of gluconeogenesis were quantified in normal pregnant women early ( approximately 10 wk) and late ( approximately 34 wk) in gestation. Their data were compared with those of normal nonpregnant women. Glucose Ra was measured using the [U-13C]glucose tracer dilution method. Gluconeogenesis was quantified by the appearance of 2H on carbon 5 and 6 of glucose after deuterium labeling of body water pool. Weight-specific glucose Ra was unchanged during pregnancy (nonpregnant, 1.89+/-0.24; first trimester, 2.05+/-0.21; and third trimester 2.17+/-0.28 mg/kg.min, mean+/-SD), while total glucose Ra was significantly increased (early, 133.5+/-7.2; late, 162.6+/-16.4 mg/min; P = 0.005). The fractional contribution of gluconeogenesis via pyruvate measured by 2H enrichment on C-6 of glucose (45-61%), and of total gluconeogenesis quantified from 2H enrichment on C-5 of glucose (i.e. , including glycerol [68-85%]) was not significantly different between pregnant and nonpregnant women. Inasmuch as total glucose Ra was significantly increased, total gluconeogenesis was also increased in pregnancy (early pregnancy, 94.7+/-15.9 mg/min; late pregnancy, 122.7+/-9.3 mg/min; P = 0.003). These data demonstrate the ability of the mother to adapt to the increasing fetal demands for glucose with advancing gestation. The mechanism for this unique quantitative adjustment to the fetal demands remains undefined.