Using cultured islets as the experimental system, this study established dosage-response and time-dependency curves of the inductive glucose effect on glucose-stimulated insulin release, glucose usage, and glucokinase activity. Glucose-stimulated insulin release in islets cultured for 1, 2, or 7 days was increased as a function of glucose concentration in the culture medium and as a function of time. Glucose usage in the cultured islets showed a close relationship with glucose concentration in the culture medium at both 2 and 7 days of culture. Glucokinase activity increased in islets cultured for 1, 2, or 7 days as a function of increasing glucose concentrations in the culture medium and as a function of time. The V(max) of glucokinase in islets cultured for 7 days in medium containing 30 mM glucose was twice the value of freshly isolated islets and was almost fivefold higher than that in islets cultured for 7 days in 3 mM glucose. The glucose induction of glucose-stimulated insulin release, of glucose usage, and of glucokinase activity were tightly correlated. The biochemical mechanisms of glucose induction of islet glucokinase were further studied. Immunoblotting with an antibody against C-terminal peptide of glucokinase showed that densities of a 52,000-kD protein band from tissue extracts of islets cultured for 7 days in 3, 12, and 30 mM glucose were 25, 44, and 270% compared with that of extract from freshly isolated islets (100%). RNA blot analysis of glucokinase mRNA demonstrated virtually the same levels in fresh islets and islets after 7 days of culture in 3 or 30 mM glucose. The adaptive response of glucokinase to glucose appears therefore to be occurring at a translational or posttranslational site in cultured islets. These data greatly strengthen the concept that glucose is the regulator that induces the activity of glucokinase, which in turn determines the rate change of glucose usage as well as glucose-stimulated insulin release from beta-cells. Thus, the hypothesis that glucokinase is the glucose sensor of beta-cells is strengthened further.