We and others have previously shown that insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas express high levels of SNAP-25 (synaptosomal-associated protein of 25 kDa), a 206-amino acid t-SNARE (target soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptors) implicated in synaptic vesicle exocytosis. In the present study, we show that SNAP-25 is required for insulin secretion by transient transfection of Botulinum Neurotoxin A (BoNT/A) into insulin-secreting HIT-T15 cells. Transient expression of BoNT/A cleaved the endogenous as well as overexpressed SNAP-25 proteins and caused significant reductions in K+ and glucose-evoked secretion of insulin. To determine whether the inhibition of release was due to the depletion of functional SNAP-25 or the accumulation of proteolytic by-products, we transfected cells with SNAP-25 proteins from which the C-terminal nine amino acids had been deleted to mimic the effects of the toxin. This modified SNAP-25 (amino acids 1-197) remained bound to the plasma membrane but was as effective as the toxin at inhibiting insulin secretion. Microfluorimetry revealed that the inhibition of secretion was due neither to changes in basal cytosolic Ca2+ levels nor in Ca2+ influx evoked by K(+)-mediated plasma membrane depolarization. Electron microscopy revealed that cells transfected with either BoNT/A or truncated SNAP-25 contained significantly higher numbers of insulin granules, many of which clustered close to the plasma membrane. Together, these results demonstrate that functional SNAP-25 proteins are required for insulin secretion and suggest that the inhibitory action of BoNT/A toxin on insulin secretion is in part caused by the production of the plasma membrane-bound cleavage product, which itself interferes with insulin granule docking and fusion.