Rat pancreatic islets were found to display a much lower content of immunoreactive CD38 and a much lower ADP-ribosyl cyclase activity than rat spleen or brain. Cyclic ADP-ribose was also measured by a radioimmunological procedure in rat pancreatic islets. In fed rats, the cyclic ADP-ribose content appeared higher after isolation of the islets in the presence of 2.8 mM D-glucose rather than in the absence of the hexose, progressively increased during incubation of the islets for 5-60 min at 37 degrees C, but failed to be affected by the concentration of D-glucose (zero to 20.0 mM) in the incubation medium. In rats fasted for 24 hours, the cyclic ADP-ribose islet content also increased during incubation, but again failed to be affected by the concentration of D-glucose in the incubation medium. Although these findings indicate that the islet cyclic ADP-ribose content is influenced by nutritional and environmental factors, they do not support the view that the insulinotropic action of D-glucose involves major change in the islet cell content of the cyclic nucleotide.