Healthy subjects were studied at rest and during 4 h of exercise at approximately 30% of maximal oxygen uptake. At 90 min of exercise 200 g glucose were ingested. A control group was studied during prolonged exercise without glucose administration. Glucose ingestion was followed by a 35% rise in arterial glucose, a 60-70% fall in arterial FFA and glycerol and a two- to threefold rise in arterial insulin. Plasma glucagon, which rose fourfold in controls, failed to rise in the glucose-fed subjects. Glucose uptake by the exercising legs was twofold greater than in controls, accounting for 60% of leg oxygen consumption. Splanchnic glucose output rose rapidly after glucose ingestion to values twice those observed in controls. However, splanchnic uptake of gluconeogenic precursors (lactate, pyruvate and glycerol) fell by 70-100%. Total splanchnic glucose escape after glucose ingestion was 84 +/- 5 g representing 42% of the ingested load. It is concluded that glucose ingestion during prolonged exercise results in a) augmented uptake and oxidation of glucose by the exercising legs, b) diminished lipolysis, c) augmented splanchnic glucose escape in association with decreased hepatic gluconeogenesis, d) retention of half of the ingested glucose within the splanchnic bed, and e) reversal of exercise-induced stimulation of glucagon secretion.