The aim of this study was to determine whether epiregulin, a novel member of EGF-related growth factor family, was able to affect proliferation and secretory function of rat insulinoma INS-1E and RINm5F cell lines. A 24 h treatment with epiregulin resulted in a stimulation of INS-1E and RINm5F cells proliferation; this effect was completely blocked in the presence of an anti-epiregulin antibody which did not affect basal DNA synthesis in the absence of added ligand. In acute experiments, epiregulin was able to potentiate insulin release in the presence of glucose or arginine, in the two cell lines. Finally, in the two cell lines expressing ErbB receptors, we demonstrated that only EGFR/ErbB1 was activated by epiregulin. Thus, epiregulin appears as a new growth and insulinotropic factor in pancreatic beta cell lines.