In order to elucidate the direct effects of (+/-)-5-[4-(6-hydroxy-2,5,7,8-tetramethylchroman-2-yl-methoxy) benzyl]-2,4-thiazolidinedione (Troglitazone), a newly-developed oral hypoglycaemic agent, on pancreatic beta-cell function, in vitro investigation of isolated rat pancreatic islets and a hamster beta-cell line (HIT cell) were performed. Troglitazone stimulates both glucose, and glibenclamide-induced insulin release at a concentration of 10(-6) mol/l in these cells but, conversely, inhibits insulin secretion at 10(-4) mol/l. Glucose uptake in HIT cells is similarly enhanced by 10(-6) mol/l Troglitazone, but is reduced in the presence of 10(-4) mol/l Troglitazone. However, a quantitative immunoblot analysis with a specific antibody for GLUT 2 glucose transporter revealed no significant change in GLUT 2 protein in HIT cells with 10(-6) mol/l Troglitazone. Specific binding of [3H]-glibenclamide to beta-cell membranes is replaced by Troglitazone in a non-competitive manner, but 10(-6) mol/l Troglitazone failed to eliminate ATP-sensitive K++ channel activity. These results suggest that Troglitazone has a putative non-competitive binding site at, or in the vicinity of, the sulphonylurea receptor in rat pancreatic islets and HIT cells and that the dual effect of Troglitazone on insulin secretory capacity is mediated through the modulation of glucose transport activity, possibly due to the modification of intrinsic activity in glucose transporter in pancreatic beta cells by this novel agent.