We are investigating human insulin gene expression in transgenic mice. An 8.8 kilobase (kb) human genomic DNA fragment, including the insulin gene (1.4 kb) and 2 kb of 5' human flanking sequences, was introduced into mouse embryos by pronuclear microinjection. Two lines of transgenic mice have been established, both of which carry the intact human gene in multiple copies. Animals from both lines have significantly higher insulin levels than control mice, and the degree of hyperinsulinemia shows a positive correlation with human gene copy number in the two lines. Expression of the human gene is confirmed by the detection of human C-peptide in plasma. Tissue specificity of expression is maintained, with human insulin mRNA detectable only in the pancreas. The transgenics maintain normal fasting blood glucose in spite of their high insulin levels, but preliminary studies show them to be glucose intolerant when given a glucose load. These mice provide a model system for further studies on the regulation of insulin gene expression and on the effects of chronic hyperinsulinemia on glucose homeostasis.