To clarify whether the effect of sulfonylurea on glucagon secretion is directly on the pancreatic A cell, we examined changes produced by gliclazide in glucagon (IRG), insulin (IRI) and somatostatin (IRS) release from the isolated perfused rat pancreas. Under 5 mM glucose infusion, IRI and IRS were increased by gliclazide in a dose-dependent manner, but IRG was unchanged. When 20 mM arginine was infused to stimulate glucagon secretion, both IRI and IRG increased markedly in a biphasic fashion and IRS increased slightly. The administration of gliclazide at the time of second phase response of IRG, IRI and IRS increased further and IRG decreased at every dose used. Insulin administration to the control and streptozotocin-treated rat pancreas did not change arginine-induced IRG secretion. Gliclazide-induced glucagon suppression was also observed in streptozotocin-diabetic rat pancreas. The amount of administered somatostatin required for inhibiting glucagon secretion was higher than the maximal level obtained from endogenous secretion of somatostatin after gliclazide. Neither cysteamine treatment alone (somatostatin-depleted) nor combined with streptozotocin-treatment (combined depletion of somatostatin and insulin) changed gliclazide-induced glucagon suppression. Thus, it is concluded that suppression of glucagon is induced by sulfonylurea itself.