Rabphilin 3a is a Rab 3-GTP binding protein concentrated on secretory vesicles of neurons and endocrine cells. There is evidence that rabphilin 3a undergoes cycles of association-dissociation with membranes and that recruitment of rabphilin 3a to secretory vesicles is mediated by Rab 3a, suggesting that rabphilin 3a is a downstream effector of this Rab. In this study we have investigated whether a membrane-anchored form of rabphilin 3a mimics the action of rabphilin 3a on secretion and bypasses the need for Rab 3 function. Overexpression of both wild-type rabphilin 3a and of a transmembrane anchored form of rabphilin 3a stimulated (about 2-fold) evoked secretion of coexpressed human proinsulin from clonal HIT-T15 cells. A similar transmembrane-anchored protein which lacked the Rab 3 binding region stimulated secretion even more effectively. Unexpectedly, a rabphilin 3a deletion mutant missing the Rab 3 binding domain was also stimulatory on secretion, although a further deletion of rabphilin to exclude the first of the two proline-rich regions abolished its stimulatory effect. The first of these two mutants was primarily particulate, while the second mutant was primarily soluble, suggesting that the first proline-rich region of rabphilin 3a plays a role in targeting rabphilin to its site of action. We conclude that the action of rabphilin 3a can be independent of Rab 3 if other mechanisms produce a sufficient concentration of the protein in proximity of exocytotic sites. These results provide new evidence for a fundamental similarity in the mechanisms by which Ras and Rab GTPase produce their distinct physiological effects.