Glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) is a candidate target autoantigen involved in the pathogenesis of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). The functional state of the beta cells has been suggested to play a pathogenic role in IDDM by altering beta-cell autoantigen expression. In this study, we investigated expression of GAD-65 and GAD-67 in isolated Sprague-Dawley rat islets cultured at different glucose concentrations. Using GAD isoform-specific antibodies in an immunoblot assay, we found that expression of both GAD-65 and GAD-67 in cultured islets was glucose dependent and that increased expression of both forms of GAD correlated with increased functional state of the beta cell. Our data indicate that the functional state of the beta cell influences islet cell expression of GAD. Thus, decreasing islet cell expression of GAD by suppressing beta cells activity may have a potential role in blunting the autoimmune destruction of pancreatic islet beta cells.