The endoplasmic reticulum chaperone glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) is essential for the proper glycosylation, folding and assembly of many membrane bound and secreted proteins. GRP78 mRNA is well known to be induced in cultured cells by lowering medium glucose concentrations from 4.5 to 0 mg/ml. Here we report a study designed to determine the effects of intermediate concentrations of glucose on GRP78 mRNA abundance. Progressive reduction in culture medium glucose from 4.5 to 1.0 mg/ml progressively reduced GRP78 mRNA to approximately 30% of the initial level. Induction of GRP78 mRNA by glucose starvation was observed in medium containing less than 1 mg/ml glucose. Determination of the amount of glucose consumed in these cultures showed that reduction of glucose concentrations led first to repression of GRP78 mRNA abundance, followed by induction of the mRNA only when glucose is nearly exhausted. Caloric restriction in mice both reduces fasting and mean 24 h glucose blood concentrations and GRP78 mRNA abundance in the liver. Thus, it is possible that negative regulation of GRP78 mRNA in the liver is due directly to reduced blood glucose concentrations.