Glyceraldehyde phosphate, a glycolytic intermediate, and succinic acid (as its methyl ester to make it permeable to the cell), a citric acid cycle intermediate, were the only glucose metabolites of many recently tested that stimulated insulin release. The effects of these two "new" insulin secretagogues on several pancreatic islet parameters were compared. Glyceraldehyde phosphate stimulated all of the insulin it released during the first 5 min after islets were exposed to it, and its maximum effect on calcium uptake was observed at 5 min. Monomethyl succinate stimulated insulin release mostly during the last 30 min of a 1-h incubation and its maximum effect on calcium uptake was at 60 min after it was applied to islets. Monomethyl succinate-induced insulin release, but not glyceraldehyde phosphate-induced insulin release, was inhibited by metabolic inhibitors (antimycin A, rotenone, cyanide, FCCP, fluoride, and iodoacetamide). This is consistent with the idea that monomethyl succinate is hydrolyzed to succinate which is metabolized intramitochondrially. The effects of glyceraldehyde suggest that glucose signals the first phase of insulin release by an agonist-like mechanism that originates in the cytosol and requires minimal energy. The effects of monomethyl succinate suggest that the signal for the second phase of glucose-induced insulin release originates in the mitochondrion and requires a large amount of energy.