Cell transplantation as a therapy for type 1 diabetes is facilitated by ex vivo cell expansion of pancreatic beta-cells without loss of differentiative characteristics. The aim of this study was to determine the optimal conditions for in vitro growth of functional human pancreatic endocrine tissue. We examined the mitogenicity of matrixes from a variety of cell lines; proliferation was greater in cells growing on matrixes from bladder carcinoma cell lines, especially in monolayers grown on matrix from the human cell line HTB-9. After 14-day culture, there was a more than 100-fold proliferative increase, which was augmented to a more than 200-fold when hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor was added; however, hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor induced a rapid decrease in insulin content. Without the growth factor, fetal cell monolayers expanded 4-fold with no insulin loss; however, after 12-fold expansion, the insulin levels decreased to 40% of those in unexpanded cells. Adult islet cells expanded 3-fold without insulin loss. After 5-fold expansion, insulin levels decreased by 25% compared to those in free floating islets while retaining a normal response to secretagogues. Together, these results indicate that HTB-9 matrix provides the best stimulatory effect on replication of human endocrine cells, with little loss of in vitro function.