Isolated rat pancreatic islets were studied to determine the dynamic regulatory effects of glucose stimulation on the expression of messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein levels for inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) receptor (IP3R) isoforms I, II, and III. The relative isoform abundance was: IP3R-III > IP3R-II approximately IP3R-I. Culture of islets with glucose (G; 20 mM) or alpha-ketoisocaproic acid for 30 min increased only IP3R-III mRNA expression above control (5.5 mM glucose). 2-Deoxyglucose was without effect. Islet culture for 2 h with G (20 mM) or alpha-ketoisocaproic acid reduced IP3R-III mRNA expression levels below control, and cycloheximide blocked the response. Culturing islets for 1 day or 7 days with G (11 mM) reduced the expression of IP3R-III mRNA but increased the expression of IP3R-II mRNA in a time-dependent manner. Cytosine arabinoside lowered cultured islet IP3R-II and -III mRNA levels, but glucose effects remained evident. IP3R-II mRNA levels were also significantly higher in islets from hyperglycemic 90% partial pancreatectomized rats, compared with sham animals. Islet IP3R mRNA expression also showed osmotic sensitivity. Islet IP3R-III protein levels increased after 2 h islet culture at 20 mM G, were unchanged after 1 day culture at 11 mM G, and were lower than control after 7 days culture at 11 mM G. In contrast, IP3R-II levels increased after 1 day and 7 days culture at 11 mM G, whereas IP3R-I protein levels remained unchanged. Thus, G stimulation rapidly increases transcription and expression of IP3R-III mRNA and protein levels in rat islets. However, chronic G stimulation up-regulates IP3R-II mRNA in cultured islets and in islets from partial pancreatectomized rats. Metabolic regulation of IP3R-II and III expression may mediate beta-cell IP3-responsive Ca2+ mobilization and insulin secretion.