The distribution of proinsulin and insulin immunoreactivity was studied in 76 human insulinomas and in normal pancreas. One trabecular and two solid insulinomas showed the staining pattern of normal beta cells. A "near normal" staining pattern (perinuclear proinsulin and diffuse or polarized insulin staining) existed in 10 of 27 trabecular and 11 of 44 solid insulinomas. An "intermediate" staining pattern (intense perinuclear as well as weaker diffuse proinsulin staining with diffuse or polarized insulin staining) was observed in 10 of 27 trabecular and 20 of 44 solid insulinomas. Different "abnormal" staining patterns were found in 6 of 27 trabecular and 6 of 44 solid insulinomas. Of the 5 glandular insulinomas, 4 exhibited a "near normal" and one an "abnormal" staining pattern. No correlation was found between any particular staining pattern and the multihormonality or malignancy of the insulinomas. The diffuse labeling for proinsulin in about 50% of the insulinomas is suggestive of abnormal prohormone processing.