Experimental diabetes was induced in rats with streptozocin before mating, and the influence of diabetes on epidermal growth factor (EGF) in milk and on other milk components was studied. Throughout the lactation period, a significant decrease was found both in the production of milk and in the concentration of EGF in milk from untreated diabetic rats compared with an insulin-treated diabetic group and a control group. Thus, the total output of EGF in milk from diabetic rats was considerably decreased. The concentrations of total protein and haptocorrin, a cobalamin (vitamin B12)-binding protein, and the content of fat, however, were unaltered by diabetes. Therefore, the decrease in milk EGF seemed to be selective compared with total protein in milk. The pups of diabetic dams had reduced body weights within 1 wk of lactation and reduced body lengths on d 16 of lactation compared with control pups. Furthermore, the time of eyelid opening was delayed, but no difference in the time of tooth eruption was observed. Insulin-treatment of diabetic rats restored the milk volume and the EGF concentration to values comparable to those of the controls. Pups of the insulin-treated diabetic dams were comparable to the pups of the controls. These results indicate that insulin deficiency in lactating rats causes a decrease in the lactational performance and in the EGF content of milk.