The metabolic clearance rate of insulin (MCRI) in 10 non-obese type 2 diabetic patients treated with either insulin alone or combined insulin plus sulfonylurea therapy is investigated. A classical 2-hour euglycaemic hyperinsulinaemic glucose clamp using the artificial pancreas was performed in a randomized order after two 6-week periods of treatment: either with subcutaneous injections of insulin alone or with insulin plus oral administration of the sulfonylurea compound glipizide at the dose of 3 x 10 mg/day. The MCRI was calculated knowing the constant insulin infusion rate (0.1 U.kg-1.h-1) and measuring basal and steady-state plasma free insulin and C-peptide levels. When the test was performed at the end of the period of treatment with insulin plus glipizide and 30 min after the ingestion of the last dose of 10 mg glipizide, plasma C-peptide levels were significantly increased and steady-state free insulin levels tended to be slightly higher whereas the metabolic clearance rate of glucose was not affected. The MCRI was significantly reduced by glipizide from 23.3 +/- 2.9 to 18.9 +/- 2.0 ml.kg-1.min-1 p < 0.05. These results demonstrate that the sulfonylurea glipizide decreases the MCRI. This effect may play a role in the hypoglycemic action of sulfonylureas.