Cell-to-cell interactions play an important role in insulin secretion. Compared with intact islets, dispersed pancreatic beta-cells show increased basal and decreased glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. In this study, we used mouse MIN6B1 cells to investigate the mechanisms that control insulin secretion when cells are in contact with each other or not. RNAi-mediated silencing of the adhesion molecule E-cadherin in confluent cells reduced glucose-stimulated secretion to the levels observed in isolated cells but had no impact on basal secretion. Dispersed cells presented high cytosolic Ca(2+) activity, depolymerized cytoskeleton and ERK1/2 activation in low glucose conditions. Both the increased basal secretion and the spontaneous Ca(2+) activity were corrected by transient removal of Ca(2+) or prolonged incubation of cells in low glucose, a procedure that restored the ability of dispersed cells to respond to glucose (11-fold stimulation). In conclusion, we show that dispersed pancreatic beta-cells can respond robustly to glucose once their elevated basal secretion has been corrected. The increased basal insulin secretion of dispersed cells is due to spontaneous Ca(2+) transients that activate downstream Ca(2+) effectors, whereas engagement of cell adhesion molecules including E-cadherin contributes to the greater secretory response to glucose seen in cells with normal intercellular contacts.