Lipids are thought to serve as coupling factors in insulin secretion. Hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) is expressed in pancreatic beta-cells and could potentially regulate insulin secretion via mobilization of stored triglycerides. Here, we examined the impact of HSL deficiency on fuel metabolism and insulin secretion in mouse islets. Lack of HSL resulted in abrogation of neutral cholesterol ester hydrolase activity, whereas diglyceride lipase activity remained intact. Although glucose stimulates lipolysis in rat islets, elevation of glucose with or without addition of cAMP failed to increase lipolysis in mouse islets regardless of genotype, as indicated by release of glycerol from islets. Storage of lipids, assayed as total acylglycerides, was unaltered in HSL null islets, and oxidation of fatty acids or glucose was not different. The intracellular rise in Ca(2+) triggered by glucose and its subsequent oscillations was unaffected in HSL null islets. Accordingly, insulin secretion in static incubations of islets, in response to fuel- and nonfuel secretagogues, was in no instance significantly different between wild-type and HSL null mice. The lacking impact of HSL deficiency on insulin secretion may be attributed to the failure of insulin secretagogues to stimulate lipolysis. Consequently, a regulatory function of lipid mobilization in insulin secretion in the mouse appears unlikely.