In islets from adult rats injected with streptozotocin during the neonatal period, both a nonmetabolized analog of L-leucine and 3-phenylpyruvate augmented 14CO2 output from islets either prelabeled with L-[U-14C]glutamine or exposed to D-[2-14C]glucose and D-[6-14C]glucose, in a manner qualitatively comparable to that found in islets from control rats. The islets of diabetic rats differed, however, from those of control rats by their unresponsiveness to both the L-leucine analog and a high concentration of D-glucose in terms of increasing 3HOH generation from [2-3H]glycerol, an impaired sparing action of the hexose upon 14CO2 output from islets prelabeled with [U-14C]palmitate, and, most importantly, by a decreased rate of D-[2-14C]glucose and D-[6-14C]glucose oxidation when either incubated at a high concentration of the hexose (16.7 mM) or stimulated by nonglucidic nutrient secretagogues at a low concentration of D-glucose (2.8 mM). In islet homogenates, the activity of glyceraldehyde phosphate dehydrogenase, glutamate decarboxylase, and NADP-malate dehydrogenase was lower in diabetic than control islets. Such was not the case for glutamate-alanine transaminase, glutamate-aspartate transaminase, or glutamate dehydrogenase. The neonatal injection of streptozotocin thus affected, in the adult rats, the activity of several islet enzymes. Nevertheless, the metabolic data suggest that an impaired circulation in the glycerol phosphate shuttle, as observed in response to stimulation of the islets by either a high concentration of D-glucose or nonglucidic nutrient secretagogues, represents an essential determinant of the preferential impairment of glucose-induced insulin release in this model of non-insulin-dependent diabetes.