The isolated perfused rat pancreas was utilized to investigate the effect of oleic acid on insulin secretion. In the absence of glucose, a continuous infusion of oleic acid (1500 micromol/l) induced a biphasic insulin release. This effect was reduced at low extracellular calcium concentration. In the presence of oleic acid 1500 micromol/l, the insulin response to 10 mmol/l arginine occurred earlier, the total amount of insulin released in response to the amino acid being unchanged. Such an effect was not obtained when oleic acid in the medium was 750 micromol/l, but it was observed in the presence of oleic acid 1500 micromol/l when the concentration of albumin in the perfusate was increased from 2 g/100 ml to 4 g/100 ml. The insulin response to a continuous infusion of glucose (4.4 mmol/l and 16.7 mmol/l) was potentiated by the presence of oleic acid 1500 micromol/l in the perfusate. No modification of the biphasic pattern of insulin response to glucose 16.7 mmol/l was observed. These results demonstrate that high concentrations of oleic acid stimulate insulin release from the isolated perfused rat pancreas and modulate the insulin response to arginine or glucose.