In order to investigate the possible relationship between a glucose-containing pump prime and changes in plasma potassium during extracorporeal circulation, determinations were made of blood glucose and plasma insulin, potassium, and magnesium in 18 subjects undergoing open-heart surgery. In 6 of the patients, the same parameters had been measured during a pre-operative glucose tolerance test. It was found that the elimination of glucose was considerably impaired during extracorporeal circulation, in spite of high insulin levels. During the first minutes of extracorporeal circulation, plasma potassium fell more than during the glucose tolerance test, in spite of comparable insulin levels. It is concluded that changes in plasma potassium during extracorporeal circulation do not reflect insulin activity to any noticeable extent.