This study was designed to search for the expression of the small-molecular-weight GTP-binding protein rab3a in endocrine pancreatic cell lines. Total RNA was isolated from five different cell lines (RINm5F, RIN 104836, beta-TC1, HIT-15, and INRI-G9) and from whole rat brain. The expression of rab3a was analyzed by Northern blots. Similar as in brain two transcripts of 1300 and 1800 bp were detected in RIN-cells at low stringency conditions with the predominant signal at 1300 bp. At high stringency the stronger signal was at 1800 bp. When a 300 bp PstI fragment derived from the coding region of rab3a was utilized as probe the 1800 bp signal was predominant under each condition. Only a faint band at 1800 bp occurred in preparations from beta TC1-cells and no signal at all was found in HIT-15 and INRI-G9-cells. In conclusion, rab3a is expressed in rat insulin-releasing insulinoma-derived RIN-cells with a specific 1800 bp transcription product.