High glucose concentrations have a dual effect on beta-cell turnover, inducing proliferation in the short-term and apoptosis in the long-term. Hyperglycemia leads to beta-cell production of interleuking (IL)-1beta in human pancreatic islets. Fas, a death receptor regulated by IL-1beta, is involved in glucose-induced beta-cell apoptosis. Fas engagement can be switched from death signal to induction of proliferation when the caspase 8 inhibitor, FLICE-inhibitory protein (FLIP), is active. Here, we show that IL-1beta at low concentrations may participate in the mitogenic actions of glucose through the Fas-FLIP pathway. Thus, exposure of human islets to low IL-1beta concentrations (0.01-0.02 ng/ml) stimulated proliferation and decreased apoptosis, whereas increasing amounts of IL-1beta (2-5 ng/ml) had the reverse effects. A similarly bimodal induction of FLIP, pancreatic duodenal homeobox (PDX)-1, and Pax4 mRNA expression, as well as glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, was observed. In contrast, Fas induction by IL-1beta was monophasic. Low IL-1beta also induced the IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), suppression of which by RNA interference abrogated the beneficial effects of low IL-1beta. The Fas antagonistic antibody ZB4 and small interfering RNA to FLIP prevented low IL-1beta-stimulated beta-cell proliferation. Consistent with our in vitro results, IL-1beta knockout mice displayed glucose intolerance along with a decrease in islet Fas, FLIP, Pax4, and PDX-1 transcripts. These findings indicate that low IL-1beta levels positively influence beta-cell function and turnover through the Fas-FLIP pathway and that IL-1Ra production prevents harmful effects of high IL-1beta concentrations.