In normal dogs epinephrine stimulates glucose production (Ra) independently of glucagon. To investigate the role of this interaction in diabetes, epinephrine (0.1 micrograms . kg-1 . min-1) was infused for 90 min in five alloxan-diabetic dogs in the presence or absence of somatostatin (0.1 micrograms . kg-1 . min-1). In response to epinephrine, glycemia rose by 40% reflecting a near maximal (122%) increase in Ra. Plasma glucagon (IRG) rose to 953 pg/ml, whereas insulin (IRI) increased minimally. When somatostatin was infused with epinephrine to prevent the rise of IRG and IRI, there was only a marginal increase of glucose concentration (12%) and production (38%). The effect of somatostatin was reversed by infusing glucagon (10 ng . kg-1 . min-1) together with epinephrine and somatostatin into five additional alloxan-diabetic dogs. Increments in IRG, glycemia, and Ra were fully reestablished. A 100% FFA increase was observed in all three groups, indicating that the lipolytic effect of epinephrine was independent of glucagon. In conclusion, in diabetic dogs, in contrast to normal dogs, epinephrine induced a marked and prolonged increase in glucose concentration and production mostly through a stimulation of IRG secretion.