We have studied the activity of S-21663 (PMS 812), a new imidazoline derivative, in a rat model of Type II diabetes obtained by i.v. injection of a low dose (35 mg/kg) of streptozotocin, using glucose tolerance tests. Glucose tolerance and insulin secretion were measured as the delta G and the delta l, i.e., the respective increase in glycemia and insulinemia over 30 min after the glucose load. The rate of glucose disappearance was calculated as the K coefficient and the insulin response to glucose as the delta l/delta G. After i.p. injection of S-21663, delta G (millimoles per liter per minute) was decreased (71.7 +/- 10.1 vs. 112.6 +/- 15.1; P < .05), whereas K was increased (3.3 +/- 0.3 vs. 1.5 +/- 0.1; P < .05). Insulin secretion was also largely improved (delta l/delta G: 90.9 +/- 22.2 vs. 18.3 +/- 2.6; P < .05). Oral administration of the product was almost as efficient as i.p. injection. Chronic treatment (15 days) increased the efficiency. Insulin secretion measured in vitro at both 2.8 and 16.6 mM glucose was quadrupled by S-21663 (100 microM). S-21663 binds neither to alpha-2 adrenoceptors nor to known imidazoline binding sites. S-21663 can be considered as a potential hypoglycemic agent in Type II diabetes.