Pancreatic beta-cells exposed to high glucose concentrations display altered gene expression, function, survival and growth that may contribute to the slow deterioration of the functional beta-cell mass in type 2 diabetes. These glucotoxic alterations may result from various types of stress imposed by the hyperglycaemic environment, including oxidative stress, endoplasmic reticulum stress, cytokine-induced apoptosis and hypoxia. The glucose regulation of oxidative stress-response and integrated stress-response genes in cultured rat islets follows an asymmetric V-shaped profile parallel to that of beta-cell apoptosis, with a large increase at low glucose and a moderate increase at high vs. intermediate glucose concentrations. These observations suggest that both types of stress could play a role in the alteration of the functional beta-cell mass under states of prolonged hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia. In addition, beta-cell demise under glucotoxic conditions may also result from beta-cell hypoxia and, in vivo, from their exposure to inflammatory cytokines released locally by non-endocrine islet cells. A better understanding of the relative contribution of each type of stress to beta-cell glucotoxicity and of their pathophysiological cause in vivo may lead to new therapeutic strategies to prevent the slow deterioration of the functional beta-cell mass in glucose intolerant and type 2 diabetic patients.