Résumé : 1. Selected esters of succinic acid are currently under investigation as potential insulinotropic tools in the treatment of non-insulin-dependent diabetes. At variance with the methyl esters of succinic acid used in most of the work so far conducted from this perspective, the monoethyl ester of succinic acid (EMS) offers the advantage of avoiding the undesirable generation of methanol by intracellular hydrolysis. In the present study, the metabolism and functional effects of EMS were investigated, therefore, in rat pancreatic islets. 2. At a 10 mM concentration, EMS enhanced insulin release from islets stimulated by 7-17 mM D-glucose but failed to do so at lower concentrations of the hexose. EMS was efficiently metabolized, as judged from the generation of 14CO2 by islets exposed to the monoethyl ester of either [1,4-14C] or [2, 3-14C]succinic acid. D-Glucose (6 mM) failed to affect the metabolism of EMS (10 mM), which itself failed to affect the metabolism of D-[5-3H]glucose or D-[U-14C]glucose. EMS also stimulated biosynthetic activity in the islets. It inhibited 86Rb and 45Ca outflow from prelabeled islets perfused in the absence of D-glucose but enhanced the efflux of the two cationic tracers in the presence of the hexose (7 mM). 3. It is concluded that the insulinotropic action of EMS is attributable, to a large extent, to its capacity to act as a nutrient in islet cells.