Agaricus campestris (mushroom) has been documented as a traditional treatment for diabetes. Here the administration of mushroom in the diet (62.5 g/kg) and drinking water (2.5 g/l) countered the hyperglycaemia of streptozotocin-diabetic mice. An aqueous extract of mushroom (1 mg/ml) stimulated 2-deoxyglucose transport (2.0-fold), glucose oxidation (1.5-fold) and incorporation of glucose into glycogen (1.8-fold) in mouse abdominal muscle. In acute 20 min tests, 0.25-1 mg/ml aqueous extract of mushroom evoked a stepwise 3.5- to 4.6-fold stimulation of insulin secretion from the BRIN-BD11 pancreatic B-cell line. This effect was abolished by 0.5 mM diazoxide and prior exposure to extract did not affect subsequent stimulation of insulin secretion by 10 mM L-alanine, thereby negating a detrimental effect on cell viability. The effect of extract was potentiated by 16.7 mM glucose, L-alanine (10 mM) and IBMX (1 mM), and a depolarising concentration of KCl (25 mM) did not augment the insulin-releasing activity of mushroom. Activity of the extract was found to be heat stable, acetone soluble and unaltered by exposure to alkali, but decreased with exposure to acid. Dialysis to remove components with molecular mass < 2000 Da caused a 40% reduction in activity. Sequential extraction with solvents revealed insulin-releasing activity to be greatest in polar fractions. Lack of haemagglutinin activity with extract activity indicated that activity was unlikely to be due to a lectin-mediated event. These results demonstrate the presence of antihyperglycaemic, insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity in A. campestris.