Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) provides tissues with fatty acids, which have complex effects on glucose utilization and insulin secretion. To determine if LPL has direct effects on glucose metabolism, we studied mice with heterozygous LPL deficiency (LPL(+/-)). LPL(+/-) mice had mean fasting glucose values that were up to 39 mg/dl lower than LPL(+/+) littermates. Despite having lower glucose levels, LPL(+/-) mice had fasting insulin levels that were twice those of (+/+) mice. Hyperinsulinemic clamp experiments showed no effect of genotype on basal or insulin-stimulated glucose utilization. LPL message was detected in mouse islets, INS-1 cells (a rat insulinoma cell line), and human islets. LPL enzyme activity was detected in the media from both mouse and human islets incubated in vitro. In mice, (+/-) islets expressed half the enzyme activity of (+/+) islets. Islets isolated from (+/+) mice secreted less insulin in vitro than (+/-) and (-/-) islets, suggesting that LPL suppresses insulin secretion. To test this notion directly, LPL enzyme activity was manipulated in INS-1 cells. INS-1 cells treated with an adeno-associated virus expressing human LPL had more LPL enzyme activity and secreted less insulin than adeno-associated virus-β- galactosidase-treated cells. INS-1 cells transfected with an antisense LPL oligonucleotide had less LPL enzyme activity and secreted more insulin than cells transfected with a control oligonucleotide. These data suggest that islet LPL is a novel regulator of insulin secretion. They further suggest that genetically determined levels of LPL play a role in establishing glucose levels in mice.