Humans with type-2 diabetes mellitus (TTDM) have hyperglycemia ( approximately 11 mM) and impaired glucose-mediated insulin secretion characterized by impaired first-phase insulin release (FPIR) and pulsatile insulin release. Culture of islets from nondiabetic humans in very high glucose concentrations ( approximately 20-30 mM) for 96 h causes impaired FPIR. We sought to determine 1). whether human islets cultured at a glucose concentration of approximately 11 mM (comparable to TTDM) recapitulates impaired insulin secretion in TTDM, specifically impaired FPIR and insulin pulse mass with an increased proinsulin/insulin (PI/I) secretion ratio; and 2). whether these changes can be attenuated by addition of diazoxide to islets cultured with 11 mM glucose. Islets cultured with 11 mM glucose for 96 h had 75% depleted insulin stores (P < 0.05), decreased FPIR and insulin pulse mass (P < 0.05), and an approximately 3-fold increase in the ratio of PI/I islet content and in secretion ratio (P < 0.05). Addition of diazoxide to islets cultured with 11 mM glucose decreased insulin secretion during static incubation, leading to relative preservation of insulin stores and enhanced insulin secretion during subsequent perifusion; FPIR increased by 162% (P < 0.05) and insulin pulse mass by 150% (P < 0.05) vs. no diazoxide. The mean islet PI/I content and islet PI/I secretion ratio were also decreased by approximately 70% (P < 0.05) by prior addition of diazoxide to islets during culture with 11 mM glucose. FPIR and insulin pulse mass were related to islet insulin stores (P < 0.001 for FPIR and P < 0.001 for pulse amplitude). In conclusion, the pattern of defects of insulin secretion present in TTDM (impaired FPIR and pulsatile insulin secretion, increased PI/I ratio) can be recapitulated in human islets cultured with 11 mM glucose for 96 h. These defects can be at least partially offset by concurrent inhibition of insulin secretion by diazoxide, which also preserves insulin stores. Defective insulin secretion in TTDM may be, at least in part, due to depletion of available insulin stores secondary to chronic increased demand (insulin resistance and hyperglycemia) in the setting of a decreased beta-cell mass.