The aim of the present study was to distinguish and describe the patterns of distribution of pancreatic islets within the pancreas of four species of laboratory animals, including rats, dogs, minipigs and monkeys, and furthermore, to identify immunohistochemically various islet cell types and characterize their content. Histopathological examinations were performed on sections stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) and immunostained using rabbit polyclonal antibodies (pAb) against insulin, glucagon, pancreatic polypeptide (PP), somatostatin, chromogranin A, keratin, bombesin and gastrin, or mouse monoclonal antibodies (mAb) against synaptophysin, Leu-7 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) in three-step rabbit immunoperoxidase (PAP) and streptavidin/peroxidase (StreptABC/HRP) reactions. Positive immunohistochemical reactions were observed in the pancreatic islets of all animal species with all antibodies, except with anti-bombesin and anti-gastrin antibodies. Our results revealed that: 1) there is species specific regional arrangement of islets in the pancreas, 2) each species presents a characteristic distribution of cells producing different hormones. 3) immunoreactivity with immunohistochemical markers varies between species and/or age. The present comparative immunohistochemical study could be helpful for answering questions which are important for understanding some of the intricate mechanisms that govern the integrated function of the endocrine pancreas.