We have examined the effect of exogenous insulin on secretion vesicle margination and secretion vesicle lysis in isolated perifused rat pancreatic islets. Recruitment of somatostatin (SRIF) receptors to the plasma membrane was used as a marker of secretion vesicle margination, whereas insulin release reflected the process of secretion vesicle lysis. A newly designed perifusion protocol allows one to interrupt intermittently either secretion vesicle margination or secretion vesicle lysis. Islets were initially perifused with glucose (30, 100, 165, 200, or 300 mg/dl) in the presence of sodium isethionate. Sodium isethionate inhibits secretion vesicle lysis, but not the recruitment of SRIF receptors. Thus, the margination of secretion vesicles to the surface membrane continued without their lysis. Sodium isethionate was then removed, and islets were challenged with 400 microM isobutylmethylxanthine (IBMX). In the islets perifused with high glucose concentrations, IBMX lysed a greater number of vesicles and caused enhanced release of insulin. The presence of exogenous insulin during the initial phase of secretion vesicle margination did not affect subsequent IBMX-induced insulin secretion from the islets perifused with low glucose concentrations (30 or even 100 mg/dl). When the glucose concentration was increased to 165, 200, or 300 mg/dl, insulin significantly diminished IBMX-induced insulin release. In separate experiments, increasing concentrations of insulin (50, 100, and 200 microU/ml) reduced glucose-induced recruitment of SRIF receptors in a dose-dependent manner. Our observations strongly suggest the existence of a well balanced relationship between ambient glucose and insulin concentrations in terms of their positive and negative feedback actions on insulin release. Their influences seem to be exerted at the level of secretion vesicle margination at the plasma membrane.