Islet allotransplantation can provide prolonged insulin independence in selected individuals with type 1 diabetes. Whether islet transplantation also restores hypoglycemic counterregulation is unclear. To determine if hypoglycemic counterregulation is restored by islet transplantation, we studied hormone responses and hypoglycemic symptom recognition in seven insulin-independent islet transplant recipients using a 3-h stepped hypoglycemic clamp, and compared their responses to those of nontransplanted type 1 diabetic subjects and nondiabetic control subjects. Glucagon responses of islet transplant recipients to hypoglycemia were significantly less than that observed in control subjects (incremental glucagon [mean +/- SE]: -12 +/- 12 vs. 64 +/- 22 pg/ml, respectively; P < 0.05), and not significantly different from that of nontransplanted type 1 diabetic subjects (-17 +/- 10 pg/ml). Epinephrine responses and symptom recognition were also not restored by islet transplantation (incremental epinephrine [mean +/- SE]: 195 +/- 128 [islet transplant recipients] vs. 238 +/- 73 [type 1 diabetic subjects] vs. 633 +/- 139 pg/ml [nondiabetic control subjects], P < 0.05 vs. control; peak symptom scores: 3.3 +/- 0.9 [islet transplant recipients] vs. 3.1 +/- 1.1 [type 1 diabetic subjects] vs. 6.7 +/- 0.8 [nondiabetic control subjects]). Thus the results indicate that despite providing prolonged insulin independence and near-normal glycemic control in these patients with long-standing type 1 diabetes, hypoglycemic hormonal counterregulation and symptom recognition were not restored by intrahepatic islet transplantation.