Hypothesizing that UCP2 may influence insulin secretion by modifying the ATP/ADP ratio within pancreatic islets, we have investigated the expression of intraislet UCP2 gene in rats showing insulin oversecretion (non-diabetic Zucker fa/fa obese rats, glucose-infused Wistar rats) or insulin undersecretion (fasting and mildly diabetic rats). We found that in Zucker fa/fa obese rats, hyperinsulinemia (1222+/-98 pmol/l vs. 128+/-22 pmol/l in lean Zucker rats) was accompanied by a significant increase in UCP2 mRNA levels. In rat submitted to a 5 day infusion with glucose, hyperinsulinemia (1126+/-101 pmol/l vs. 215+/-25 pmol/l in Wistar control rats), coincided with an enhanced intraislet UCP2 gene expression, whereas a 8h or a 2 day-infusion did not induce significant changes in UCP2 mRNA expression. In rats made hypoinsulinemic and mildly diabetic by the injection of a low dose of streptozotocin, and in 4-day-fasting rats (plasma insulin 28+/-5 pmol/l) UCP2 gene expression was sharply decreased. A 3-day-fast was ineffective. The data show the existence of a time-dependent correlation between islet mRNA UCP2 and insulin that may be interpreted as an adaptative response to prolonged insulin excess.