The diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance that occurs in most patients with pancreatic cancer is characterized by profound insulin resistance. Recent evidence suggests that the diabetes may result from the presence of the tumor rather than being a predisposing factor to development of the malignancy. Some islet hormones have been shown to exhibit diabetogenic effects. To investigate the potential role of these hormones in the diabetic state associated with pancreatic cancer, we measured islet hormones during fasting in pancreatic cancer patients (n = 30), patients with other malignancies (n = 43), and healthy controls (n = 25). Preoperative pancreatic cancer patients were classified as normal glucose tolerance (NGTT), impaired glucose tolerance (IGTT), non-insulin-requiring diabetes (NIRD), and insulin-requiring diabetes (IRD). Nine pancreatic cancer patients were studied after tumor removal by subtotal pancreatectomy. Some preoperative pancreatic cancer patients (n = 19), postoperative patients (n = 9), and controls (n = 8) were also studied during hyperglycemia and following glucagon injection. Fasting plasma C-peptide was elevated in NIRD pancreatic cancer patients compared to controls. Fasting levels of islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP), glucagon. and somatostatin were elevated in NIRD and IRD patients. IAPP and glucagon, but not somatostatin, normalized following subtotal pancreatectomy. During hyperglycemia, increases in C-peptide and IAPP were seen only in controls and in NGTT and postoperative pancreatic cancer patients. After glucagon infusion, IAPP levels increased in controls and nondiabetic cancer patients; C-peptide levels increased in controls, nondiabetic patients, and NIRD. Responses of C-peptide and IAPP to glucagon normalized after pancreatectomy. During hyperglycemia, glucagon levels fell in all groups except IGTT patients and a decrease in somatostatin concentrations was seen in controls.