The effect of chemically induced diabetes mellitus on the intestinal transport of glutamine was examined using a brush-border membrane vesicle technique. Diabetes was induced by a single intraperitoneal injection of streptozotocin (100 mg/kg body weight). Control and diabetic rats were studied 5 days following the induction of diabetes. Na(+)-dependent and Na(+)-independent glutamine (0.5 mM) transport was found to be significantly higher in the diabetic rats than in the control rats. This increase was found to be caused by a significant increase in the Vmax of the Na(+)-dependent and the Na(+)-independent glutamine transport processes in the diabetic rats (Vmax of 3742 +/- 487 and 2055 +/- 279 pmol/mg protein per 7 s, respectively) compared with that of the control rats (2183 +/- 75 and 1271 +/- 83 pmol/mg protein per 7 s, respectively). The apparent Km values of glutamine transport systems, on the other hand, were similar in the two rat groups. Insulin treatment of the diabetic rats significantly reduced the Vmax of glutamine transport by both the Na(+)-dependent and the Na(+)-independent processes to a level similar to that of the control rats (Vmax in the insulin-treated diabetic rats of 2036 +/- 123 and 1247 +/- 105 pmol/mg protein per 7 s, respectively). This study demonstrates that chemically induced diabetes mellitus is associated with an increase in intestinal glutamine transport. This increase is the result of the diabetic condition itself and appears to be mediated through an increase in the number of the transport carriers of glutamine.