In order to investigate a possible role of GABA in the regulation of insulin secretion, we have studied the effect of GABA on insulin secretion from the isolated perfused rat pancreas in vitro and on the changes in the cytoplasmic Ca2+ of Beta-cells from the isolated rat islets. When glucose is present, GABA caused a dose dependent inhibition of the first phase of arginine-induced insulin secretion during the range of 10-1000 microM, but GABA did not affect arginine-induced insulin secretion in the absence of glucose. GABA inhibited not only the first phase but also the second phase of glucose-induced insulin secretion. A GABAB-receptor agonist, baclofen, also inhibited both phases of insulin secretion induced by 16.7 mM glucose. Furthermore, GABA inhibited the rise in cytoplasmic Ca2+ of Beta-cells in response to 16.7 mM glucose. These studies indicate that GABA decreases Beta cell secretory activity mainly in response to glucose. These inhibitory effects of GABA on insulin secretion may be mediated through GABAB-receptor and the inhibition of the rise in cytoplasmic Ca2+.