Short-term and long-term regulation of hepatic carbohydrate metabolism by insulinlike growth factor-I was studied in primary cultures of adult rat hepatocytes and compared with the metabolic potency of insulin. Insulinlike growth factor-I stimulated the formation of [14C]lactate from [14C]glucose up to three-fold with a half-maximally effective concentration of ∼50 nmol/L. Basal glycogenolysis was inhibited by about 20%, and glucagon-activated glycogenolysis was blocked completely by insulinlike growth factor-I with half-maximally effective concentrations of about 1.5 to 2 nmol/L. The activity of the key glycolytic enzymes glucokinase and pyruvate kinase were induced twofold. The glucagon-dependent induction of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase—the key gluconeogenic enzyme—was antagonized with a half-maximally effective concentration of about 5 nmol/L. This inhibition of the glucagon-dependent induction of the enzyme was accompanied by a similar reduction of the increase in phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase—mRNA level as assessed by Northern blot analysis. The potency of insulinlike growth factor-I at half-maximally effective concentrations was approximately 2% to 4% that of insulin. Because binding studies demonstrated a comparably low affinity of insulinlike growth factor-I to the insulin receptor, it is suggested that in adult liver—in contrast to fetal and regenerating liver—insulinlike growth factor-I could exert short-term and long-term metabolic effects on parenchymal cells only through interaction with the insulin receptor. (HEPATOLOGY 1990;12:1139–1143).