The present studies were designed to determine if totally pancreatectomized dogs that underwent islet auto-transplantation retained a functional pancreatic counterregulatory response to mild non-insulin-induced hypoglycemia. Six dogs underwent total pancreatectomy followed by islet auto-transplantation to spleen or omentum. The animals recovered and fasting plasma glucose and insulin levels were normal. Each study consisted of a 40-min control and 2-h test period. At the onset of the test period, a glycogen phosphorylase inhibitor was administered to create mild hypoglycemia. Plasma glucose in the transplanted dogs fell from 120 +/- 4 to 80 +/- 3 mg/dL, similar to the minimum in control dogs without islet auto-transplantation (108 +/- 2 to 84 +/- 5 mg/dL). The fall in plasma insulin was similar in both groups. Glucagon, however, rose in response to hypoglycemia in the control dogs (Delta24 +/- 7 pg/mL; p < 0.05), but failed to rise significantly in the transplanted dogs (Delta9 +/- 6 pg/mL). In fact, only 1 of 7 control dogs failed to increase plasma glucagon by at least 25%, whereas 4 of 6 transplanted dogs failed to do so. In conclusion, in conscious dogs with successfully auto-transplanted islets, the beta cell response to mild non-insulin-induced hypoglycemia was normal, whereas the alpha cell response was not.