Exercise, obesity and type 2 diabetes are associated with elevated plasma concentrations of interleukin-6 (IL-6). Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a hormone that induces insulin secretion. Here we show that administration of IL-6 or elevated IL-6 concentrations in response to exercise stimulate GLP-1 secretion from intestinal L cells and pancreatic alpha cells, improving insulin secretion and glycemia. IL-6 increased GLP-1 production from alpha cells through increased proglucagon (which is encoded by GCG) and prohormone convertase 1/3 expression. In models of type 2 diabetes, the beneficial effects of IL-6 were maintained, and IL-6 neutralization resulted in further elevation of glycemia and reduced pancreatic GLP-1. Hence, IL-6 mediates crosstalk between insulin-sensitive tissues, intestinal L cells and pancreatic islets to adapt to changes in insulin demand. This previously unidentified endocrine loop implicates IL-6 in the regulation of insulin secretion and suggests that drugs modulating this loop may be useful in type 2 diabetes.