Sporadic persistent hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia of infancy (PHHI) or nesidioblastosis is a heterogeneous disorder characterized by profound hypoglycemia due to inappropriate hypersecretion of insulin. An important diagnostic goal is to distinguish patients with a focal hyperplasia of islet cells of the pancreas (FoPHHI) from those with a diffuse abnormality of islets (DiPHHI) because management strategies differ significantly. 16 infants with sporadic PHHI resistant to diazoxide and who underwent pancreatectomy were investigated. Selective pancreatic venous sampling coupled with peroperative surgical examination and analysis of extemporaneous frozen sections allowed us to identify 10 cases with FoPHHI and 6 cases with DiPHHI. We show here that in cases of FoPHHI, but not those of DiPHHI, there was specific loss of maternal alleles of the imprinted chromosome region 11p15 in cells of the hyperplastic area of the pancreas but not in normal pancreatic cells. This somatic event is consistent with a proliferative monoclonal lesion. It involves disruption of the balance between monoallelic expression of several maternally and paternally expressed genes. Thus, we provide the first molecular explanation of the heterogeneity of sporadic forms of PHHI such that it is possible to perform only partial pancreatectomy, limited to the focal somatic lesion, so as to avoid iatrogenic diabetes in patients with focal adenomatous hyperplasia.