Insulin Lispro is a newly FDA approved analog of human insulin that exhibits rapid absorption and a short duration of action after sc injection. Although Lispro insulin improves immediate postprandial glycemia compared to Regular insulin, long term trials of Lispro insulin have not shown improvement in overall glycemic control, as determined by glycosylated hemoglobin. We hypothesize that this lack of improvement is attributable to the development of late postprandial hyperglycemia secondary to a waning of Lispro insulin's effect in conjunction with continued meal absorption. This study was designed to evaluate the duration of Lispro-induced reductions in plasma glucose after a standardized meal when Lispro insulin is incorporated into a regimen typically employed in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. After establishment of euglycemia overnight, 12 healthy IDDM patients received human Ultralente insulin (0.2 U/kg) alone and in combination with each of the following treatments in random sequence immediately before ingesting a 750-Cal American Diabetes Association breakfast: 1) 0.15 U/kg human Regular insulin (Regular 0.15 group), 2) 0.15 U/kg Lispro insulin (Lispro 0.15 group), 3) 0.1 U/kg Lispro insulin (Lispro 0.1 group), and 4) an equimolar (1:1) mixture of Lispro and Regular insulins (0.15 U/kg; 1:1 Mix group). Glucose and hormonal parameters were assessed for 8 h after the meal. Peak postprandial glucose was increased in the Regular insulin group compared to that in all groups that incorporated Lispro insulin (P < 0.001). Glucose area under the curve (AUC) was decreased in the Lispro 0.15 group compared to that in the Lispro 0.1 group, and glucose AUC was decreased in the Lispro 0.15 and 1:1 Mix groups compared to that in the group given Regular insulin (P < 0.001). Mean plasma glucose concentrations during the final hour of study were increased in the Ultralente group compared with those in all other treatment groups and were increased in the Lispro 0.1 group compared with those in the Regular, Lispro 0.15, and 1:1 Mix groups (P < 0.05). Insulin AUC was significantly reduced in the Lispro 0.1 group compared to those in all other short acting insulin groups (P < 0.001), and time to peak insulin was more rapid in the two Lispro groups than those in all other treatment groups (P < 0.01). The glucagon response was significantly greater in the Ultralente group compared to those with all other treatments. There was no difference in the development of hypoglycemia between the groups. This study demonstrates that the reductions in plasma glucose effected by Lispro insulin are consistent and stable for 8 h after meal ingestion when Lispro insulin is used in combination with human Ultralente insulin. These findings suggest that improvement in overall glycemia, as assessed by glycosylated hemoglobin, may be achievable with Lispro insulin if adequate doses are administered.