Glutamine is able to regulate the expression of various genes in rat hepatocytes. This includes genes coding for proteins involved in glutamine utilization, such as argininosuccinate synthetase (ureagenesis) or phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (gluconeogenesis). Moreover, glutamine is also able to stimulate the expression of genes involved in the acute-phase response, such as the alpha 2-macroglobulin gene. The effect of glutamine on the regulation of gene expression may be explained, at least in part, by the cell swelling due to its sodium-dependent transport. The physiological significance of the effect of glutamine is discussed.