A plant mixture containing extracts of Nigella sativa possesses blood glucose lowering effects, but the direct antidiabetic effect of Nigella sativa is not yet established. Therefore, the effect of Nigella sativa oil (NSO) on blood glucose concentrations was studied in streptozotocin diabetic rats. In addition, the effect of NSO, nigellone and thymoquinone were studied on insulin secretion of isolated rat pancreatic islets in the presence of 3, 5.6 or 11.1 mM glucose. NSO significantly lowered blood glucose concentrations in diabetic rats after 2, 4 and 6 weeks. The blood lowering effect of NSO was, however, not paralleled by a stimulation of insulin release in the presence of NSO, nigellone or thymoquinone. The data indicate that the hypoglycemic effect of NSO may be mediated by extrapancreatic actions rather than by stimulated insulin release.