This study demonstrates that the threshold of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion can be regulated in vivo by long term hormonal and nutrient modifications. The sensitivity of the pancreatic B-cell to glucose stimulation was determined by examining the pattern of insulin release from pancreases perfused with linear glucose gradients. Male rats infused with ovine PRL for 4 days and rats receiving five hourly injections of glucose had a lower threshold and enhanced rates of insulin release at all stimulatory glucose concentrations. Infusion of bGH for 4 days was without effect on glucose gradient-stimulated insulin release. Fasting the rats for 48 h resulted in an elevation of the threshold and a substantial reduction in the extent of insulin release. To determine possible processes involved in these long term modifications of the threshold of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, the in vitro effect of potentiators of insulin release was examined. Forskolin, glucagon, cholecystokinin, and carbamylcholine were able to lower the threshold and increase the extent of insulin release. This suggests that the long term regulation of insulin secretion may modulate processes controlling cAMP concentrations and the hydrolysis of phosphoinositides in pancreatic B-cells. Also, the proposed incretin gastric inhibitory polypeptide was capable of lowering the threshold and increasing insulin secretion at stimulatory glucose concentrations. The consequence of a decreased threshold is a markedly enhanced insulin secretion at normal serum glucose concentrations.