Human islet research is crucial to understanding the cellular biology of the pancreas in developing therapeutic options for diabetes patients and in attempting to prevent the development of this disease. The national Islet Cell Resource Center Consortium provides human pancreatic islets for diabetes research while simultaneously addressing the need to improve islet isolation and transplantation technologies. Since its inception in 2001, the consortium has supplied 297.6 million islet equivalents to 151 national and international scientists for use in clinical and laboratory projects. Data on the volume, quality, and frequency of shipments substantiate the importance of human islets for diabetes research, as do the number of funded grants for beta-cell projects and publications produced as a direct result of islets supplied by this resource. Limitations in using human islets are discussed, along with the future of islet distribution centers. The information presented here is instructive to clinicians, basic science investigators, and policy makers who determine the availability of funding for such work. Organ procurement coordinators also may find the information useful in explaining to donor families why research consent is so valuable.