Blood glucose fluctuations, also referred to as intermittent high glucose, have been validated to be more harmful than sustained high glucose in exacerbating pancreatic dysfunction by inducing β cell apoptosis. Salvianolic acid B (Sal B), an aqueous component of Salvia miltiorrhiza, has been proved beneficial to pancreatic islet function in diabetes, but the underlying mechanisms remain to be elucidated. The present study investigated the protective effect of Sal B on INS-1 cells exposed to intermittent high glucose and the possible mechanisms implicated. The results indicated that Sal B was able to restore cell viability and suppress INS-1 cell apoptosis induced by intermittent high glucose. Preincubation with Sal B led to a significant decrease of caspase-9 and caspase-3 activity and poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) cleavage. Exposure to intermittent high glucose induced significant up-regulation of proapoptotic proteins, down-regulation of antiapoptotic protein and depolarization of mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) in INS-1 cells, while these changes were reversed effectively in Sal B treated groups. In addition, Sal B markedly attenuated intermittent high glucose-induced oxidative stress as manifested by notably decreased levels of intracellular reactive oxygen species and malondialdehyde (MDA). Taken together, these results indicate that Sal B is able to suppress intermittent high glucose-induced INS-1 cell apoptosis, which might be ascribed to regulation of Bcl-2 family protein expression and preservation of mitochondrial membrane potential.