Glucagon-like peptide 2 (GLP-2) has recently been identified as a novel intestinal growth factor. Because experimental diabetes is associated with bowel growth, we examined the relationship between GLP-2 and intestinal growth in rats made diabetic by streptozotocin (STZ) injection and treated with or without insulin for 3 wk. Ileal concentrations of the intestinal proglucagon-derived peptides, i.e., glicentin + oxyntomodulin, and GLPs 1 and 2, were increased by 57 +/- 20% above those of controls in untreated STZ diabetes (P < 0.05-0.001). Similar increases in plasma concentrations of glicentin + oxyntomodulin (77 +/- 15% above controls, P < 0.01) and GLP-2 (91 +/- 32% above controls, P < 0.05) were seen in untreated STZ diabetes. Both wet and dry small intestinal weight increased by 74 +/- 20% above controls (P < 0.01) in STZ diabetes, and macromolecular analysis indicated parallel increases in both protein (P < 0.001) and lipid (P < 0.05) content. Villus height (P < 0.001) and crypt depth (P < 0.01) were also increased in untreated diabetic rat intestine. Insulin therapy prevented the changes in plasma GLP-2 and intestinal mass seen in untreated STZ diabetes. Thus STZ diabetes is associated with both increased production of GLP-2 and enhanced bowel weight, thereby suggesting a role for GLP-2 in diabetes-associated bowel growth.