Capsaicin-sensitive afferent neurons including transient receptor potential vanilloid subfamily 1, TRPV1, and neurohormonal peptides participate in the physiological regulation of pancreatic endocrine. However, the direct effect of capsaicin on insulin secretion remains unknown. Our present study showed that TRPV1 is expressed in islet beta cells as well as in neurons in rat pancreas, and also in rat beta cell lines, RIN and INS1. Capsaicin (10(-11)-10(-9) M) dose-dependently increased insulin secretion from RIN cells, and this effect was inhibited by either a TRPV1 inhibitor capsazepine or EDTA. Systemic capsaicin (10 mg/kg, s.c.) increased plasma insulin level 1 h after the treatment. We demonstrated for the first time that TRPV1 is functionally expressed in rat islet beta cells and plays a role in insulin secretion as a calcium channel. This study may account for the influences of capsaicin on the food intake and energy consumption as well as on the pathophysiological regulation of pancreatic endocrine.