Cytoplasmic Ca2+ ([Ca2+](i)) and membrane potential changes were measured in clonal pancreatic beta cells using a fluorimetric imaging plate reader (FLIPR). KCl (30 mM) produced a fast membrane depolarization immediately followed by increase of [Ca2+](i) in BRIN-BD11 cells. L-Alanine (10 mM) but not L-arginine (10 mM) mimicked the KCl profile and also produced a fast membrane depolarization and elevation of [Ca2+];. Conversely, a rise in glucose from 5.6 mM to 11.1 or 16.7 mM induced rapid membrane depolarization, followed by a slower and delayed increase of [Ca2+](i). GLP-1 (20 nM) did not affect membrane potential or [Ca2+](i). In contrast, acetylcholine (ACh, 100 muM) induced fast membrane depolarization immediately followed by a modest [Ca2+]; increase. When extracellular Ca2+ was buffered with EGTA, ACh mobilized intracellular calcium stores and the [Ca2+]; increase was reduced by 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate but not by dantrolene, indicating the involvement of inositol triphosphate receptors (InsP(3)R). It is concluded that membrane depolarization of beta cells by glucose stimulation is not immediately followed by elevation of [Ca2+]i and other metabolic events are involved in glucose induced stimulus-secretion coupling. It is also suggested that ACh mobilizes intracellular Ca2+ through store operated InsP(3)R. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.