Emerging reports on human islets emphasize distinct differences from the widely accepted prototype of rodent islets, raising questions over their suitability for human studies. Here we aim at elucidating architectural differences and similarities of human versus rodent islets. The cellular composition and architecture of human and rodent islets were compared through three-dimensional (3D) reconstructions. Physiological and pathological changes were examined using islets from various mouse models such as non-obese diabetic (NOD), ob/ob, db/db mice and during pregnancy. A subpopulation of human islets is composed of clusters of alpha-cells within the central beta-cell cores, while the overall proportion of alpha-cells varies among islets. In mouse islets under normal conditions, alpha-cells are localized in the islet periphery, but they do not envelop the entire beta-cell core, so that beta-cells are exposed on the outer layer of the islet, as in most human islets. Also, an increased proportion of alpha-cells within the central core is observed in the pancreas of mouse models exhibiting increased demand for insulin. In summary, human and mouse islets share common architectural features as endocrine micro-organs. Since these may hold a key to better understanding islet plasticity, our concept of the prototypic islet should be revised.