The present study was designed to identify in a model of noninsulin-dependent diabetes induced by neonatal streptozotocin (n0-STZ), the long-term consequences of an islet graft upon 1) glucose handling of the recipient and, 2) glucose response of the residual beta cells in the recipient pancreas. We have examined, 4 and 8 wk after islet implantation under the kidney capsule of syngeneic diabetic n0-STZ rats, their tolerance to glucose administered in vivo, together with their insulin release in response to glucose in vivo (oral glucose tolerance test) as well as in vitro (perfused pancreas). The results in the islet-grafted n0-STZ rats, were compared to those obtained in nongrafted nondiabetic rats and nongrafted n0-STZ rats. Our study shows that transplanting a limited number (900) of adult islets under the kidney capsule reverses to normal, many parameters of the noninsulin-dependent diabetic state in the n0-STZ rat model: these include body weight, basal plasma glucose in both the nonfasted and postabsorptive states, and basal plasma insulin in the postabsorptive state. Furthermore, tolerance to oral glucose administration was greatly improved in the transplanted rats and it was correlated with restoration of a manifest glucose-induced insulin secretion in vivo as evaluated (delta 1) during an oral glucose tolerance test. Our data clearly show that the insulin response to glucose from the endogenous pancreas of n0-STZ diabetic rat was not really improved by long-term (8 wk) basal normoglycemia. More precisely, we were able to detect a slight but significant improvement of the early phase of insulin release in vitro in response to glucose; however, the overall insulin response remained 15 times lower than the normal one with no reappearance of the late phase of insulin release. After cessation of glucose stimulation in vivo, off-response of insulin, which is also a landmark of the impaired insulin release by the beta cells of n0-STZ rats, was still detectable in the perfused pancreas of the transplanted n0-STZ rats. Finally, because the reactivity to glucose of the endogenous residual beta cells was not regained, the insulin released in vivo during the oral glucose test in the graft-bearing n0-STZ rats can be attributed mainly to functioning of the grafted islets population.