The hypothesis proposing that anaplerosis and cataplerosis play an important role in fuel signaling by providing mitochondrially derived coupling factors for stimulation of insulin secretion was tested. A rise in citrate coincided with the initiation of insulin secretion in response to glucose in INS-1 beta-cells. The dose dependence of glucose-stimulated insulin release correlated closely with those of the cellular contents of citrate, malate, and citrate-derived malonyl-CoA. The glucose-induced elevations in citrate, alpha-ketoglutarate, malonyl-CoA, and the 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium reduction state, an index of beta-cell metabolic activity, were unaffected by the Ca2+ chelator EGTA. Glucose induced a rise in both mitochondrial and cytosolic citrate and promoted efflux of citrate from the cells. The latter amounted to approximately 20% of glucose carbons entering the glycolytic pathway. Phenylacetic acid, a pyruvate carboxylase inhibitor, reduced the glucose-induced rise in citrate in INS-1 cells and insulin secretion in both INS-1 cells and rat islets. The results indicate the feasibility of a pyruvate/citrate shuttle in INS-1 beta-cells, allowing the regeneration of NAD+ in the cytosol and the formation of cytosolic acetyl-CoA, malonyl-CoA, and NADPH. The data suggest that anaplerosis and cataplerosis are early signaling events in beta-cell activation that do not require a rise in Ca2+. It is proposed that citrate is a signal of fuel abundance that contributes to beta-cell activation in both the mitochondrial and cytosolic compartments and that a major fate of anaplerotic glucose carbons is external citrate.