This study was designed to examine the time-course of response to inhibition of fatty acid (FA) oxidation in rats rendered mildly diabetic with streptozotocin and fed a high fat diet (50% of energy derived from fat). Etomoxir, a specific carnitine palmitoyltransferase (CPT-1) inhibitor, was administered subcutaneously (12.5 mg/kg) to inhibit long chain fatty acid oxidation. Diabetic and non-diabetic control rats were maintained on the high fat diet. Following an overnight fast, glucose, free fatty acid (FFA) and triglyceride (TG) concentrations were determined after three days, one week and four weeks of treatment. The effect of Etomoxir treatment in reducing fasting glucose concentrations was not evident until after one week, while fasting FFA and TG concentrations were already reduced after three days treatment. All of these changes were maintained over the four week period (P less than 0.001), resulting in reduced levels of fasting plasma glucose (17.6 +/- 2.4 vs 22.3 +/- 1.9 mmol/l), fasting plasma TG (0.32 +/- 0.07 vs 0.98 +/- 0.14 mmol/l) and fasting serum FFA (1.52 +/- 0.26 vs 3.51 +/- 0.69 mEq/l). In addition, the improvements in glucose and lipid levels were accompanied by restored rates of growth towards that of non-diabetic control rats. These results suggest that the short term inhibition of FA oxidation improves fasting glucose, FFA and TG concentrations in diabetic rats fed a high fat diet.