Pancreatic beta-cell function was studied in six subjects with mutations in the enzyme glucokinase (GCK) who were found to have elevated fasting and postprandial glucose levels in comparison to six normoglycemic controls. Insulin secretion rates (ISRs) were estimated by deconvolution of peripheral C-peptide values using a two-compartment model and individual C-peptide kinetics obtained after bolus intravenous injections of biosynthetic human C-peptide. First-phase insulin secretory responses to intravenous glucose and insulin secretion rates over a 24-h period on a weight maintenance diet were not different in subjects with GCK mutations and controls. However, the dose-response curve relating glucose and ISR obtained during graded intravenous glucose infusions was shifted to the right in the subjects with GCK mutations and average ISRs over a glucose range between 5 and 9 mM were 61% lower than those in controls. In the controls, the beta cell was most sensitive to an increase in glucose at concentrations between 5.5 and 6.0 mM, whereas in the patients with GCK mutations the point of maximal responsiveness was increased to between 6.5 and 7.5 mM. Even mutations that resulted in mild impairment of in vitro enzyme activity were associated with a > 50% reduction in ISR. The responsiveness of the beta cell to glucose was increased by 45% in the subjects with mutations after a 42-h intravenous glucose infusion at a rate of 4-6 mg/kg per min. During oscillatory glucose infusion with a period of 144 min, profiles from the subjects with mutations revealed reduced spectral power at 144 min for glucose and ISR compared with controls, indicating decreased ability to entrain the beta cell with exogenous glucose. In conclusion, subjects with mutations in GCK demonstrate decreased responsiveness of the beta cell to glucose manifest by a shift in the glucose ISR dose-response curve to the right and reduced ability to entrain the ultradian oscillations of insulin secretion with exogenous glucose. These results support a key role for the enzyme GCK in determining the in vivo glucose/ISR dose-response relationships and define the alterations in beta-cell responsiveness that occur in subjects with GCK mutations.