Glucagon stimulates 14CO2 production from [1-14C] glycine by isolated rat hepatocytes. Maximal stimulation (70%) of decarboxylation of glycine by hepatocytes was achieved when the concentration of glucagon in the medium reached 10 nM; half-maximal stimulation occurred at a concentration of about 2 nM. A lag period of 10 min was observed before the stimulation could be measured. Inclusion of beta-hydroxybutyrate (10 mM) or acetoacetate (10 mM) did not affect the magnitude of stimulation suggesting that the effects of glucagon were independent of mitochondrial redox state. Glucagon did not affect either the concentration or specific activity of intracellular glycine, thus excluding the possibilities that altered concentration or specific activity of intracellular glycine contributes to the observed stimulation. The stimulation of decarboxylation of glycine by glucagon was further studied by monitoring 14CO2 production from [1-14C]glycine by mitochondria isolated from rats previously injected with glucagon. Glycine decarboxylation was significantly stimulated in the mitochondria isolated from the glucagon-injected rats. We suggest that glucagon is a major regulator of hepatic glycine metabolism through the glycine cleavage enzyme system and may be responsible for the increased hepatic glycine removal observed in animals fed high-protein diets.