Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is an incretin hormone secreted from enteroendocrine L cells in response to ingested nutrients. The first recognized and most important action of GLP-1 is the potentiation of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in beta-cells, mediated by activation of its seven transmembrane domain G-protein-coupled receptor. In addition to its insulinotropic actions, GLP-1 exerts islet-trophic effects by stimulating replication and differentiation and by decreasing apoptosis of beta-cells. The GLP-1 receptor is expressed in a variety of other tissues important for carbohydrate metabolism, including pancreatic alpha-cells, hypothalamus and brainstem, and proximal intestinal tract. GLP-1 also appears to exert important actions in liver, muscle and fat. Thus, GLP-1 suppresses glucagon secretion, promotes satiety, delays gastric emptying and stimulates peripheral glucose uptake. The impaired GLP-1 secretion observed in type 2 diabetes suggests that GLP-1 plays a role in the pathogenesis of this disorder. Thus, because of its multiple actions, GLP-1 is an attractive therapeutic target for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and major interest has resulted in the development of a variety of GLP-1 receptor agonists for this purpose. Ongoing clinical trials have shown promising results and the first analogs of GLP-1 are expected to be available in the near future.