The nuclear receptor hepatocyte nuclear factor (HNF) 4 alpha is involved in a transcriptional network and plays an important role in pancreatic beta-cells. Mutations in the HNF4 alpha gene are correlated with maturity-onset diabetes of the young 1. HNF4 alpha isoforms result from both alternative splicing and alternate usage of promoters P1 and P2. It has recently been reported that HNF4 alpha transcription is driven almost exclusively by the P2 promoter in pancreatic islets. We observed that transcripts from both P1 and P2 promoters were expressed in human pancreatic beta-cells and in the pancreatic beta-cell lines RIN m5F and HIT-T15. Expression of HNF4 alpha proteins originating from the P1 promoter was confirmed by immunodetection. Due to the presence of the activation function module AF-1, HNF4 alpha isoforms originating from the P1 promoter exhibit stronger transcriptional activities and recruit coactivators more efficiently than isoforms driven by the P2 promoter. Conversely, activities of isoforms produced by both promoters were similarly repressed by the corepressor small heterodimer partner. These behaviors were observed on the promoter of HNF1 alpha that is required for beta-cell function. Our results highlight that expression of P1 promoter-driven isoforms is important in the control of pancreatic beta-cell function.