Résumé : Acute exposure of pancreatic islets to interleukin-1 beta results in an increase in insulin release, while an extension of the exposure time induces a functional suppression and eventually, destruction of the B-cells. We have recently suggested that the interleukin-1 beta induced inhibition of islet function is mediated through an impairment in oxidative metabolism. The aim of the current study was to investigate if the acute, stimulatory effects of interleukin-1 beta on islet function could also be related to changes in the substrate metabolism. For this purpose, rat islets were exposed for 90-120 min to 30 pmol/l human recombinant interleukin-1 beta (biological activity of 2.5 U/ml) and their function and metabolism characterized during this period. The cytokine did not increase insulin release in the presence of 1.7 or 5.5 mmol/l glucose but in both the presence of 16.7 mmol/l glucose or 10 mmol/l leucine + 2 mmol/l glutamine there was a 50% increase in insulin release. Interleukin-1 beta exposure increased the oxidation of D-[U-14C]glucose at 5.5 mmol/l glucose by 25% and at 16.7 mmol/l glucose by 60%. Carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism were further examined in the presence of D-[5-3H]glucose, D-[6-14C]glucose, [1-14C]pyruvate, L-[U-14C]glutamine, L-[U-14C]leucine and L-[1-14C]leucine. There was no difference between control islets and interleukin-1 beta exposed islets in terms of D-[5-3H]glucose utilization or [1-14C]pyruvate decarboxylation, but the oxidation of D-[6-14C]glucose was increased by 64% in the interleukin-1 beta exposed islets.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)