Chronic hyperglycemia is responsible for diabetes-specific microvascular and macrovascular complications. To reduce hyperglycemia, key tissues may be engineered to take up glucose. To determine whether an increase in skeletal muscle glucose phosphorylation leads to increased glucose uptake and to normalization of diabetic alterations, the liver enzyme glucokinase (GK) was expressed in muscle of transgenic mice. GK has a high K(m) for glucose and its activity is not inhibited by glucose 6-phosphate. The presence of GK activity in skeletal muscle resulted in increased concentrations of glucose 6-phosphate and glycogen. These mice showed lower glycemia and insulinemia, increased serum lactate levels, and higher blood glucose disposal after an intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test. Furthermore, transgenic mice were more sensitive to injection of low doses of insulin, which led to increased blood glucose disposal. In addition, streptozotocin (STZ)-treated transgenic mice showed lower levels of blood glucose than STZ-treated controls and maintained body weight. Moreover, injection of insulin to STZ-treated transgenic mice led to normoglycemia, while STZ-treated control mice remained highly hyperglycemic. Thus, these results are consistent with a key role of glucose phosphorylation in regulating glucose metabolism in skeletal muscle. Furthermore, this study suggests that engineering skeletal muscle to express GK may be a new approach to the therapy of diabetes mellitus.