The role of bone marrow (BM)-derived cells in pancreatic beta-cell regeneration remains unresolved. We examined whether BM-derived cells are recruited to the site of moderate pancreatic injury and contribute to beta-cell regeneration. Low-dose streptozotocin (STZ) treatment was used to induce moderate pancreatic damage and hyperglycemia. Enhanced green fluorescent protein-positive (EGFP) BM chimeras were evaluated for beta-cell regeneration after STZ treatment. To test the hypothesis that pancreatic tissue injury induces a stromal cell-derived factor (SDF)-1 gradient to chemoattract the stem cells, we evaluated the expression of mRNA for SDF-1 in damaged pancreatic tissue. SDF-1 was significantly increased in the pancreas after damage, peaking at day 10. The majority of BM cells expressing mRNA for pancreatic development markers were detected in the subpopulation of CD45/Sca-1/Lin very small embryonic-like (VSEL) cells. VSEL cells mobilized from BM to peripheral blood in response to pancreatic damage, peaking in peripheral blood at day 5, and were enriched in the pancreas 10 to 15 days after STZ treatment. To confirm a role for BM-derived cells in pancreatic beta-cell regeneration, we prepared EGFP-->B6 chimeras. In the EGFP chimeras, EGFP cells were detected around duct and islets and were positive for insulin after STZ treatment. However, STZ-induced hyperglycemia was reduced only transiently (49-77 days) after pancreatic injury. These data suggest that VSEL cells are mobilized into injured pancreatic tissue and contribute to beta-cell regeneration. Transplantation of BM-derived cells improves the function of injured pancreas, although the response is not sufficient to restore sustained normoglycemia.