Storage of pancreatic islets by cryopreservation would greatly facilitate a large scale program of clinical islet transplantation. We report success on long-term follow-up with autotransplantation of frozen/thawed canine pancreatic fragments. Total pancreatectomy and islet isolation by collagenase ductal perfusion and mechanical disruption preceded either acute autotransplantation or cryogenic preservation prior to autotransplantation. Cryopreservation was by dimethylsulfoxide equilibration, cooling at 0.25 degrees C/min to -75 degrees C, storage in liquid N2 and thawing at 3.5 degrees C/min. Four of five acutely autotransplanted dogs remained normoglycemic for 20 months, with three of four maintaining normal K values on intravenous glucose tolerance test (IVGTT) and nondiabetic values on oral GTT. Four of four dogs transplanted with frozen/thawed islets remained normoglycemic for 15 months with three of four maintaining nondiabetic IV GTT K values and normal oral GTTs for 15 months. Both acutely transplanted and frozen/thawed islets are capable of maintaining long-term metabolic control. Cryopreservation preserved viability of sufficient canine pancreatic islets to reverse diabetes with autotransplantation. Function of the frozen-thawed islets showed minimal deterioration during a follow-up of 15 to 18 months.