Epidermal growth factor and insulin share many biological activities, including stimulation of cell proliferation, ion flux, glycolysis, fatty acid and glycogen synthesis, and activation of receptor-linked tyrosine kinase activity. In the kidney, insulin has been shown to regulate transport processes and inhibit gluconeogenesis in the proximal tubule. Since the kidney represents a major source of EGF, the present studies investigated whether proximal tubule contained EGF receptors, whether EGF receptors were localized to apical or basolateral membranes, and whether EGF receptor activation participated in the regulation of an important proximal tubule function, gluconeogenesis. Specific EGF receptors were demonstrated in the basolateral membrane of proximal tubule. Following incubation with 125I EGF, basolateral membranes demonstrated equilibrium binding at 4 degrees C and 23 degrees C. There was 78 +/- 2% specific binding (n = 13). The dissociation constant (Kd) was 1.5 x 10(-9) M and maximal binding was 44 fmol/mg protein. There was ninefold more specific binding to proximal tubule basolateral membrane than to brush border membrane. In basolateral, but not brush border membranes, EGF induced phosphorylation of the tyrosine residues of intrinsic membrane proteins, including a 170 kDa protein, corresponding to the EGF receptor. In the presence of the gluconeogenic substrates, alanine, lactate, and succinate, proximal tubule suspensions synthesized glucose. EGF inhibited glucose production in a concentration-dependent manner over a concentration range of 3 x 10(-11) to 3 x 10(-9) M. In addition, EGF inhibited angiotensin II-stimulated glucose production in the proximal tubule suspensions. EGF did not significantly increase net glucose metabolism nor decrease cellular ATP concentrations. Therefore, these studies demonstrated that rat proximal tubule contained specific receptors for EGF that were localized to the basolateral membrane and linked to tyrosine kinase activity. EGF significantly inhibited proximal tubule glucose production without significantly increasing net glucose consumption.