We have demonstrated regulation of the rat brain/Hep G2 glucose transporter gene (GT1) by Northern blot analysis with a rat brain glucose transporter cDNA probe. Incubation of both neuronal and glial cells derived from neonatal rats with 12-O-tetradecanoyl-phorbol-13-acetate induced a time- and dose-dependent increase in the steady state levels of GT1 mRNA. In glial cells, this corresponded to an increase in both the level of GT1 protein and glucose transporter activity, as demonstrated by Western blot analysis and [3H]2-deoxyglucose (dGlc) uptake studies. In contrast, in neuronal cells 12-O-tetra- decanoyl-phorbol-13-acetate had no effect on either the concentration/level of the GT or [3H]dGlc uptake. These results suggest that phorbol esters regulate dGlc uptake at the transcriptional level in both neuronal and glial cells, but that the increase in expression of the GT1 gene is dissociated from posttranscrip- tional events involved in dGlc uptake in neuronal cells.