Elevated islet uncoupling protein-2 (UCP-2) impairs beta-cell function and UCP-2 may be increased in clinical obesity and diabetes. We investigated the effects of glucose and leptin on UCP-2 expression in isolated human islets. Human islets were incubated for 24 h with glucose (5.5-22 mmol/l)+/-leptin (0-10 nmol/l). Some islet batches were incubated at high (22 mmol/l), and subsequently lower (5.5 mmol/l), glucose to assess reversibility of effects. Leptin effects on insulin release were also measured. Glucose dose-dependently increased UCP-2 expression in all islet batches, maximally by three-fold. This was not fully reversed by subsequently reduced glucose levels. Leptin decreased UCP-2 expression by up to 75%, and maximally inhibited insulin release by 47%, at 22 mmol/l glucose. This is the first report of UCP-2 expression in human islets and provides novel evidence of its role in the loss of beta-cell function in diabetes.