The activities of the mitochondrial FAD-linked glycerophosphate dehydrogenase (m-GDH), glutamate dehydrogenase, alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase, glutamate-pyruvate transaminase (GPT) and glutamate-oxaloacetate transaminase were measured in islet and liver homogenates from fetal, neonatal, adult male, adult female, pregnant and lactating rats. Either parallel or dissociated ontogenic changes were observed in islet and liver homogenates. The activity of islet m-GDH was slightly, albeit not significantly, lower in neonates than in adult rats, comparable in male and female adult animals, unaffected by pregnancy, and increased during lactation. It was much higher in fetal or adult islets cultured for 7 days than in freshly isolated islets from adult rats. In cultured islets from adult rats, the increase in m-GDH activity coincided with a dramatic decrease of GPT activity, a situation the mirror image of that found in several animal models of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. The intrinsic properties of m-GDH, as judged by comparison of measurements made by either a radioisotopic or a colorimetric procedure, were not identical in islet and liver homogenates and differed between fetal and adult islets, suggesting the existence of distinct iso-enzymes. These findings illustrate adaptive changes of islet enzymes, with exclusive or partial mitochondrial location, in ontogenic situations characterized by a remodelling of fuel homeostasis.