We determined if blocking transmission in the fibers of the vagus nerves would affect basal hepatic glucose metabolism in the 18-h-fasted conscious dog. A pancreatic clamp (somatostatin, basal portal insulin, and glucagon) was employed. A 40-min control period was followed by a 90-min test period. In one group, stainless steel cooling coils (Sham, n = 5) were perfused with a 37 degrees C solution, while in the other (Cool, n = 6), the coils were perfused with -20 degrees C solution. Vagal blockade was verified by heart rate change (80 +/- 9 to 84 +/- 14 beats/min in Sham; 98 +/- 12 to 193 +/- 22 beats/min in Cool). The arterial glucose level was kept euglycemic by glucose infusion. No change in tracer-determined glucose production occurred in Sham, whereas in Cool it dropped significantly (2.4 +/- 0.4 to 1.9 +/- 0.4 mg. kg(-1). min(-1)). Net hepatic glucose output did not change in Sham but decreased from 1.9 +/- 0.3 to 1.3 +/- 0.3 mg. kg(-1). min(-1) in the Cool group. Hepatic gluconeogenesis did not change in either group. These data suggest that vagal blockade acutely modulates hepatic glucose production by inhibiting glycogenolysis.