Paired micropuncture experiments were carried out in somatostatin-infused volume-expanded rats to examine the effects of a glucagon infusion (0.05 ng.min-1.g body wt-1) on urinary acidification and tubular handling of bicarbonate. Whole kidney and single-nephron glomerular filtration rate were not affected by glucagon. In thyroparathyroidectomized (TPTX) rats, glucagon inhibited the reabsorption of total CO2 in Henle's loop. In intact animals, however, the latter effect was not observed. In the distal tubule accessible to micropuncture, net total CO2 absorption was observed during volume expansion plus somatostatin infusion, which reversed to net total CO2 secretion during glucagon infusion in Wistar rats; thus the late distal delivery of total CO2 increased almost 80%. Marked inhibition of urinary acidification occurred in all animals as evidenced by a rise in urine pH and bicarbonate excretion. Conversely, a somatostatin infusion, which decreased the plasma glucagon concentration, stimulated net total CO2 absorption along the distal tubule and augmented final urine acidification in Wistar rats. Finally, urine-minus-blood PCO2 during alkaline diuresis was significantly reduced by glucagon infusion in bicarbonate-loaded TPTX rats. We conclude that 1) glucagon inhibits bicarbonate absorption in superficial Henle's loop in TPTX but not in intact rats, and 2) glucagon stimulates bicarbonate secretion and/or inhibits proton secretion in the distal tubule and collecting ducts, which leads to reduced urinary acidification.