Islet beta-cells express low levels of lactate dehydrogenase and have high glycerol phosphate dehydrogenase activity. To determine whether this configuration favors oxidative glucose metabolism via mitochondria in the beta-cell and is important for beta-cell metabolic signal transduction, we have determined the effects on glucose metabolism and insulin secretion of acute overexpression of the skeletal muscle isoform of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)-A. Monitored in single MIN6 beta-cells, LDH hyperexpression (achieved by intranuclear cDNA microinjection or adenoviral infection) diminished the response to glucose of both phases of increases in mitochondrial NAD(P)H, as well as increases in mitochondrial membrane potential, cytosolic free ATP, and cystolic free Ca2+. These effects were observed at all glucose concentrations, but were most pronounced at submaximal glucose levels. Correspondingly, adenoviral vector-mediated LDH-A overexpression reduced insulin secretion stimulated by 11 mmol/l glucose and the subsequent response to stimulation with 30 mmol/l glucose, but it was without significant effect when the concentration of glucose was raised acutely from 3 to 30 mmol/l. Thus, overexpression of LDH activity interferes with normal glucose metabolism and insulin secretion in the islet beta-cell type, and it may therefore be directly responsible for insulin secretory defects in some forms of type 2 diabetes. The results also reinforce the view that glucose-derived pyruvate metabolism in the mitochondrion is critical for glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in the beta-cell.