Islet transplantation offers a logical means to treat insulin-dependent diabetes. However, for reasons poorly understood, the clinical results with islet transplantation have been vastly inferior to those obtained with whole organ pancreas transplantation. The conventional technique for transplanting isolated islets is by intraportal injection, with the islets being trapped in the liver. Human islets exposed to human blood trigged an "instant blood mediated inflammatory reaction", IBMIR, characterised by platelet consumption, and activation of the coagulation and complement systems. The islets became surrounded by clots and infiltrated with leukocytes, and there was evidence of islet damage as reflected in insulin dumping. When heparin and a complement inhibitor (SCRI), was added to the system, IBMIR was suppressed and islet damage reduced. After intraportal pig-to-pig islet intraportal allotransplantation similar morphological changes was found, corroborating the in vitro findings. Thus, IBMIR inflicts a significant damage to human islets exposed to human blood and IBMIR will also, most likely, enhance the subsequent specific, cell mediated, rejection. Platelet and complement activation seem to be the most important factors in the pathogenesis of IBMIR. The results presented strongly suggest that IBMIR observed both in vitro and in vivo when isolated islets come in contact with blood could provide an explanation for the unsatisfactory results seen in clinical islet allotransplantation.