To facilitate the noninvasive preoperative localization of islet cell tumors less than 15 mm in diameter, the authors examined the use of calcium as an insulin secretagogue in an arterial stimulation venous sampling (ASVS) technique. In four patients with episodic hypoglycemia, calcium gluconate (0.01-0.025 mEq Ca2+/kg) was injected directly into branches of the celiac plexus (gastroduodenal, splenic, and hepatic arteries) and the superior mesenteric artery. In all patients, serum levels of insulin rose abruptly in blood samples taken from the right hepatic vein 30 and 60 seconds after the infusion of calcium into the artery supplying the tumor; injection into an artery not supplying the tumor did not result in a similar rise. Accurate localization of the insulinomas was verified at surgery in three patients. In the fourth patient, who did not undergo surgery, arteriographic results were positive for insulinoma at the predicted site. On the basis of these results, the authors believe noninvasive ASVS may replace invasive portal venous sampling as the most effective method for the localization of occult insulinomas.