The concentrations of vitamin A (retinol) and retinyl ester in the plasma and liver of normal and diabetic rats were measured by HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography). Diabetic rats had severe hyperglycemia, induced by a single streptozotocin injection 5 weeks prior to sampling. In the normal rats, plasma retinyl palmitate was very low, and the level was increased 10-fold by diabetes. Detailed time-course studies showed that rats became hyperglycemic within 48h of streptozotocin injection, yet the plasma retinyl palmitate level was not elevated until some three weeks later. Severe diabetes did not significantly influence plasma retinol; however, free retinol in the liver was elevated within 10 days of initiation of the disease and continued to increase for the duration of the study. These results show that streptozotocin-induced diabetes significantly alters the concentrations of hepatic retinol and plasma retinyl ester. The biochemical mechanism(s) of this altered vitamin A homeostasis in diabetes and its possible relationship to tissue pathogenesis are not known at present.