Overexpression of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) in the beta-cell of transgenic mice enhances beta-cell proliferation, survival, and function. In the current studies, we have used conditional ablation of the c-met gene to uncover the physiological role of HGF in beta-cell growth and function. Mice in which c-met is inactivated in the beta-cell (MetCKO mice) display normal body weight, blood glucose, and plasma insulin compared with control littermates. In contrast, MetCKO mice displayed significantly diminished glucose tolerance and reduced plasma insulin after a glucose challenge in vivo. This impaired glucose tolerance in MetCKO mice was not caused by insulin resistance because sensitivity to exogenous insulin was similar in both groups. Importantly, in vitro glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in MetCKO islets was decreased by approximately 50% at high glucose concentrations compared with control islets. Furthermore, whereas insulin and glucokinase expression in MetCKO islets were normal, GLUT-2 expression was decreased by approximately 50%. These changes in beta-cell function in MetCKO mice were not accompanied by changes in total beta-cell mass, islet morphology, islet cell composition, and beta-cell proliferation. Interestingly, however, MetCKO mice display an increased number of small islets, mainly single and doublet beta-cells. We conclude that HGF/c-met signaling in the beta-cell is not essential for beta-cell growth, but it is essential for normal glucose-dependent insulin secretion.