Cholinergic and adrenergic innervation of pancreatic islets from age- and sex-matched nondiabetic (M subline) and diabetic (AC subline) Chinese hamsters was analyzed by acetylcholinesterase (AChE) histochemistry and norepinephrine fluorescence. The AChE activity was significantly diminished in islets of diabetic animals compared with that of nondiabetic controls. The reduction in cholinergic innervation displayed an inverse relationship with respect to nonfasting plasma glucose and ketone levels. On the basis of qualitative analysis, adrenergic activity also appeared to be depressed in islets of diabetic animals. These date suggest that autonomic control of islet function is altered in diabetic Chinese hamsters when plasma glucose and ketone levels arae elevated and may exacerbate metabolic complications in this animal model.