Rab3D, a member of the ras-related GTP-binding protein Rab family, is localized to secretory granules of various exocrine tissues such as acinar cells of the pancreas, chief cells of the stomach, and parotid and lacrimal secretory cells. To elucidate the function of Rab3D in exocytosis, we have generated transgenic mice that over-express Rab3D specifically in pancreatic acinar cells. Hemagglutinin-tagged Rab3D was localized to zymogen granules by immunohistochemistry, and was shown to be present on zymogen granule membranes by Western blotting; both results are similar to previous studies of endogenous Rab3D. Secretion measurements in isolated acinar preparations showed that overexpression of Rab3D enhanced amylase release. Amylase secretion from intact acini of transgenic mice 5 min after 10 pM cholecystokinin octapeptide (CCK) stimulation was enhanced by 160% of control. In streptolysin-O-permeabilized acini of transgenic mice, amylase secretion induced by 100 microM GTP-gamma-S was enhanced by 150%, and 10 microM Ca2+-stimulated amylase secretion was augmented by 206% of that of the control. To further elucidate Rab3D involvement in stimulus-secretion coupling, we examined the effect of CCK on the rate of GTP binding to Rab3D. Stimulation of permeabilized acini with 10 pM CCK increased the incorporation of radiolabeled GTP into HA-tagged Rab3D. These results indicate that overexpression of Rab3D enhances secretagogue-stimulated amylase secretion through both calcium and GTP pathways. We conclude that Rab3D protein on zymogen granules plays a stimulatory role in regulated amylase secretion from pancreatic acini.