The influence of 48 h starvation on glucose-induced changes of palmitate metabolism and insulin release in isolated rat islets was investigated. (1) Islet insulin response to 20 mM-glucose was abolished after 48 h starvation, and it was restored by 0.25 mM-2-bromostearate, an inhibitor of fatty acid oxidation. (2) The increase in glucose concentration from 3 to 20 mM was accompanied by a 50% decrease in the oxidation rate of 0.5 mM-[U-14C]palmitate in control (fed) islets, and a concomitant increase (100%) in its incorporation into triacylglycerol and phospholipid fractions. (3) Starvation induced a higher basal (3 mM-glucose) rate of palmitate oxidation, which was resistant to inhibition by 20 mM-glucose. The latter also failed to increase palmitate incorporation into islet triacylglycerols and phospholipids. (4) 2-Bromostearate (0.25 mM) strongly inhibited the high oxidation rate of palmitate in islets of starved rats, and allowed a normal stimulation of its incorporation rate into islet lipids by 20mM-glucose. (5) The results suggest that starvation restricts islet esterification of fatty acids by inducing a higher rate of their oxidative degradation that is insensitive to regulation by glucose.