In islet transplantation, nonimmunological factors such as limited growth capacity or increased death rate could reduce the beta cell mass in the graft and lead to failure of the transplant. We studied the evolution of beta cell replication and mass after transplantation of insufficient, minimally sufficient, or excessive islet tissue. Streptozocin diabetic C57BL/6 mice received 150 or 300 syngeneic islets under the kidney capsule and normal mice received 300 islets. In streptozocin diabetic mice 300 islets restored normoglycemia; beta cell replication in transplanted islets was similar to replication in normal pancreas and beta cell mass in the graft remained constant. In contrast, 150 islets were insufficient to achieve normoglycemia; beta cell replication was increased initially but not by 18 or 30 d despite persistent hyperglycemia, and beta cell mass fell progressively. When islets were transplanted into normal recipients, beta cell replication remained normal but beta cells underwent atrophy and mass in the graft was substantially reduced. Therefore, with a successful islet transplant, in diabetic mice beta cell replication and mass remain constant. In contrast, when insufficient islet tissue is transplanted an initial increase in beta cell replication can not compensate for a decline in beta cell mass. When excessive islet tissue is transplanted, beta cell mass is reduced despite normal beta cell replication.