Abnormalities of somatostatin secretion in diabetes may be secondary to B cell damage with resulting insulinopenia or other effects of diabetogenic agents, including toxicity toward the somatostatin-producing D cells. These possibilities were evaluated in isolated perfused pancreas from normal and alloxan-diabetic rats. In normal rats 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (IBMX, 1 mM), alpha-ketoisocaproic acid (KIC, 5 mM), D-glucose (27 mM), and D-glyceraldehyde (5 mM) stimulated somatostatin release. In diabetic rats 3 days after alloxan, IBMX and KIC elicited somatostatin release, whereas glucose or glyceraldehyde were without effect. In diabetic rats 14 days after alloxan, an otherwise (in normal and 3-day diabetic rats) nonstimulatory concentration of IBMX (0.05 mM) markedly stimulated somatostatin release, whereas as in 3-day diabetic rats glucose was ineffective. Insulin treatment for 2 days did not affect the somatostatin response to glucose in normal rats, did not restore a somatostatin response to glucose 3 days after alloxan, but partially restored (P less than 0.01) a response to glucose (28% of normal) 14 days after alloxan. Insulin in vitro (1 mU/ml, 20 min) failed to restore a glucose effect. Administration of alloxan (1.0 mM) for 5 min to pancreases from normal rats inhibited glucose-induced somatostatin response from 1,562 +/- 401 to 206 +/- 83 pg/15 min (P less than 0.01), whereas the response to IBMX (1 mM) was not significantly decreased. Following different time courses, both an effect of alloxan and of metabolic derangement inhibit somatostatin responses to glucose in alloxan diabetes.