1. The catabolism of glycine was studied in isolated rat liver mitochondria by measuring release of 14CO2 from [1-14C]-glycine. Incubation of mitochondria in a medium containing 0.5 microM free Ca2+ resulted in an 8-fold increase in the rate of degradation of glycine. Intraperitoneal injection of glucagon (33 or 100 micrograms/100 g body wt.) 25 min before killing of rats also resulted in a 3-fold or 10-fold (depending on dosage) increase in the rate of catabolism of glycine. 2. Both the stimulation by free Ca2+ and that by injection of glucagon in vivo were dependent on phosphate in the incubation medium. This requirement for phosphate was specific, as replacement of phosphate by other permeant anions such as thiocyanate and acetate did not permit the stimulation. The phosphate-dependent stimulation of glycine catabolism by Ca2+ was also evident when mitochondria were incubated in the absence of K+. 3. Mitochondria isolated from rats previously injected with glucagon showed elevated rates of degradation of glycine even in the presence of rotenone, provided that regeneration of NAD+ was affected by providing acetoacetate. 4. Hypo-osmolarity of the medium markedly stimulated the rate of degradation of glycine by mitochondria. Although hypo-osmolarity-induced stimulation of glycine degradation was accompanied by parallel changes in mitochondrial matrix volume, no measurable changes in matrix volume were observed in mitochondria stimulated either by free Ca2+ (0.5 microM) or by injection of glucagon in vivo. Furthermore, Ca2+ stimulated glycine decarboxylation in mitochondria exposed to either hyper-osmolar (410 mosmol) or hypo-osmolar (210 mosmol) conditions. Although hyper-osmolarity decreased and hypo-osmolarity increased matrix volume, stimulation of glycine degradation by Ca2+ was not associated with any further changes in matrix volume. 5. These data demonstrate that the regulation of hepatic glycine oxidation by glucagon and by free Ca2+ is largely independent of changes in mitochondrial matrix volume.