1. This is the first description of the metabolic activity of a novel adenosine A1-receptor agonist, GR79236. GR79236 inhibited catecholamine-induced lipolysis in human, rat and dog isolated adipocytes. 2. Oral administration of GR79236 (0.1-10 mg/kg) to fed rats induced minimal changes in the plasma concentration of non-esterified fatty acids and in the blood concentrations of glucose and lactate. 3. Intravenous infusion of GR79236 to fasted pithed rats, or oral administration of GR79236 to fasted conscious rats and dogs, produced time- and dose-dependent decreases in the plasma non-esterified fatty acid concentration. In the fasted rats, doses of GR79236 that lowered plasma levels of non-esterified fatty acids also produced hypotriglyceridaemia and anti-ketotic effects. 4. Only in the pithed rats were acute effects on the plasma glucose and lactate concentrations observed. Hypoglycaemia and hyperlactataemia occurred over the dose range studied (1 x 10(-11)-1 x 10(-8) mol min-1 kg-1). 5. This profile of activity suggests that compounds such as GR79236 might be agents which can be used to define the role of excessive lipolysis in experimental (and human) pathophysiology.