The presence of islet cell cytoplasmic antibodies (ICA) and islet cell surface antibodies (ICSA) at the time of diagnosis of type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus has been taken as evidence that autoimmune mechanisms are involved in the pathogenesis of the disease. The demonstration that ICSA in the presence of complement are preferentially lytic for beta-cells may be important in defining the role of these autoantibodies in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. Because of the polyclonality of the immune response, the ICA and ICSA molecules of diabetic patient vary enormously in their binding parameters. For this reason we have generated monoclonal antibodies (MC-Ab) to islet cell antigens. In this study we investigate the effect of the two MC-Ab K28 A1 and K28 D6 resulted from the same fusion of the P3-X63-Ag8 murine myeloma cell line with the spleen cells of a Balb/c mouse immunized with rat islet cells on the hormone release of isolated rat islet in co-culture with the antibody-secreting hybridomas. The MC-Ab K28 D6 binds to both islet cell cytoplasmic and surface antigens, the K28 A1 is only reactive with cytoplasmic antigens. Surprisingly, in contrast to the monoclonal antibody K28 A1, K28 D6 enhanced the glucagon content and diminished the insulin secretion of the islets. Either the K28 D6 is directed to an epitope occurring on the beta- as well as alpha-cells or the antibody-mediated inhibition of the glucagon release results in a significantly reduced insulin secretion.