To understand how glucose regulates the expression of the glucose-6-phosphatase gene, the effect of glucose was studied in primary cultures of rat hepatocytes. Glucose-6-phosphatase mRNA levels increased about 10-fold when hepatocytes were incubated with 20 mm glucose. The rate of transcription of the glucose-6-phosphatase gene increased about 3-fold in hepatocytes incubated with glucose. The half-life of glucose-6-phosphatase mRNA was estimated to be 90 min in the absence of glucose and 3 h in its presence. Inhibition of the oxidative and the nonoxidative branches of the pentose phosphate pathway blocked the stimulation of glucose-6-phosphatase expression by glucose but not by xylitol or carbohydrates that enter the glycolytic/gluconeogenic pathways at the level of the triose phosphates. These results indicate that (i) the glucose induction of the mRNA for the catalytic unit of glucose-6-phosphatase occurs by transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms and that (ii) xylitol and glucose increase the expression of this gene through different signaling pathways.