During a dynamic perifusion, 20 mmol/L glucose, 20 mmol/L alpha-ketoisocaproate (KIC) or 20 mmol/L methyl pyruvate (MP) stimulate biphasic insulin secretory responses from collagenase-isolated rat islets. Peak first-phase insulin responses were comparable for all 3 nutrient agonists. The largest second-phase insulin secretory response was evoked by 20 mmol/L glucose (30-fold above basal release rates), and this response was more sustained than that observed with either 20 mmol/L KIC or 20 mmol/L MP. When mouse islets were perifused under similar conditions, KIC stimulated the largest first-phase insulin response, while comparable acute insulin secretion rates were obtained with glucose- or MP-stimulated islets. In contrast to rat islets, the sustained second phase of insulin secretion from mouse islets was minimal regardless of the nutrient secretagogue used. This anomalous response of mouse islets as compared with rat islets could not be ascribed to any obvious difference in the glucose usage rate or insulin content between these 2 species. Glucose, KIC, or MP stimulated significant increases in 3H-inositol phosphates in rat islets. Significantly smaller increases were measured in mouse islets. Comparative Western blot analyses showed pronounced species differences in the expression of phospholipase Cbeta1 (PLCbeta1), PLCbeta2, PLCbeta3, and PLCdelta1 but not PLCgamma1 or protein kinase Calpha (PKCalpha) between rat and mouse islets. PLCbeta4 or PLCdelta2 could not be identified in either species. These findings are consistent with the concept that the underexpression of the nutrient-activated PLC isozyme may account for the minimal inositol phosphate (IP) and second-phase insulin secretory response from mouse islets.