Pancreatic tissue was obtained during therapeutic subtotal pancreatectomy from five infants with persistent hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia of infancy (so-called nesidioblastosis). Collagenase digests of the specimens were cultured in RPMI 1640 medium on extracellular matrix-coated plates. Acute insulin secretion showed minimal sensitivity to changes in glucose concentration. Sensitivity to other nutrient secretagogues such as glyceraldehyde, leucine, alpha-ketoisocaproic acid and arginine was variable, showing either diminished or absent response. On the other hand, stimulators of Beta cell cAMP and modulators of the phosphoinositide-protein kinase C pathway were effective inducers of insulin release. The response to cAMP stimulators was independent of the glucose concentration. Although insulin output was high in the absence of glucose, this was not due to passive leak of hormone, since both removal of calcium and addition of somatostatin and epinephrine inhibited the secretion. Beta cells were more sensitive to somatostatin than epinephrine; however, both agents failed to completely suppress the release even at suprapharmacological concentrations. Although it cannot be excluded that the culture conditions affected Beta cell function, the present findings may suggest that cultured Beta cells in persistent hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia of infancy behave like fetal Beta cells at early developmental stages.