It has been previously demonstrated that pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) regulates insulin secretion. PACAP exerts its biological action by binding to at least three different receptor subtypes coupled to different signal transduction mechanisms. The signaling pathways underlying the insulinotropic effect of PACAP involve mainly the activation of adenylate cyclase to form cAMP, which directly and indirectly, through increased intracellular Ca2+, stimulates insulin exocytosis. In the present study we have characterized the functional and molecular expression of PACAP/vasoactive intestinal polypeptide receptors isoforms and subtypes and its isoforms in a beta-cell line and in isolated rat pancreatic islets. Although insulinoma cells express the messenger RNA encoding PAC1 (-R and -hop variants), VPAC1 and VPAC2, binding experiments indicate the preponderance of PAC1 over VPAC 1-2 receptors. We have also shown that the main signaling pathway of PACAP in beta-cells is mediated by adenylate cyclase, whereas the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate pathway is almost inactive. Furthermore, we have demonstrated that PACAP exerts long-term effects on beta-cells, such as transcriptional regulation of the insulin gene and genes of the glucose-sensing system (GLUT1 and hexokinase 1).