Intravenous GLP-1 [7-36 amide] can normalize fasting hyperglycaemia in Type 2 diabetic patients. Whether GLP-1 [7-37] has similar effects and how quickly plasma glucose concentrations revert to hyperglycaemia after stopping GLP-1 is not known. Therefore, 8 patients with Type 2 diabetes (5 female, 3 male; 65+/-6 years; BMI 34.3+/-7.9 kg m(-2); HbA1c 9.6+/-1.2%; treatment with diet alone (n=2), sulphonylurea (n=5), metformin (n=1)) were examined twice in randomized order. GLP-1 [7-36 amide] or [7-37] (1 pmol kg(-1)min(-1) were infused intravenously over 4 h in fasted subjects. Plasma glucose (glucose-oxidase), insulin and C-peptide (ELISA) was measured during infusion and for 4 h thereafter. Indirect calorimetry was performed. Fasting hyperglycaemia was 11.7+/-0.9 [7-36 amide] and 11.3+/-0.9 mmol l(-1) [7-37]. GLP-1 infusions stimulated insulin secretion approximately 3-fold (insulin peak 168+/-32 and 156+/-47 pmol l(-1), p<0.0001 vs basal; C-peptide peak 2.32+/-0.28 and 2.34+/-0.43 nmol l(-1), p<0.0001, respectively, with GLP-1 [7-36 amide] and [7-37]). Four hours of GLP-1 infusion reduced plasma glucose (4.8+/-0.4 and 4.6+/-0.3 mmol l(-1), p<0.0001 vs basal values), and it remained in the non-diabetic fasting range after a further 4 h (5.1+/-0.4 and 5.3+/-0.4 mmol l(-1), for GLP [7-36 amide] and [7-37], respectively). There were no significant differences between GLP-1 [7-36 amide] and [7-37] (glucose, p=0.99; insulin, p=0.99; C-peptide, p=0.99). Neither glucose oxidation nor lipid oxidation (or any other parameters determined by indirect calorimetry) changed during or after the administration of exogenous GLP-1. In conclusion, GLP-1 [7-36 amide] and [7-37] normalize fasting hyperglycaemia in Type 2 diabetic patients. Diabetes therapy (diet, sulphonyl ureas or metformin) does not appear to influence this effect. In fasting and resting patients, the effect persists during administration of GLP-1 and for at least 4 h thereafter, without rebound. Significant changes in circulating substrate concentrations (e.g. glucose) are not accompanied by changes in intracellular substrate metabolism.