This review article is an attempt to schematize the major alterations in ionic fluxes and B cell membrane potential that underlie the changes in insulin release brought about by glucose and by other stimulators or inhibitors. Glucose metabolism in B cells leads to closure of K channels in the plasma membrane. The resulting decrease in K+ permeability causes depolarization with activation of voltage-dependent Ca channels. An increase in Ca2+ influx ensues, which raises the cytoplasmic concentration of free Ca2+ and ultimately triggers insulin release. Tolbutamide induces a similar sequence of events by a direct action on K channels. In contrast, diazoxide antagonizes the effects of glucose by increasing K+ permeability of the B cell membrane. Among amino acids, leucine largely mimics the effects of glucose, whereas arginine depolarizes the B cell membrane because of its transport in a positively charged form.