Glucokinase activity is increased in pancreatic islets during pregnancy and in vitro by prolactin (PRL). The underlying mechanisms that lead to increased glucokinase have not been resolved. Since glucose itself regulates glucokinase activity in β-cells, it was unclear whether the lactogen effects are direct or occur through changes in glucose metabolism. To clarify the roles of glucose metabolism in this process, we examined the interactions between glucose and PRL on glucose metabolism, insulin secretion, and glucokinase expression in insulin 1 (INS-1) cells and rat islets. Although the PRL-induced changes were more pronounced after culture at higher glucose concentrations, an increase in glucose metabolism, insulin secretion, and glucokinase expression occurred even in the absence of glucose. The presence of comparable levels of insulin secretion at similar rates of glucose metabolism from both control and PRL-treated INS-1 cells suggests the PRL-induced increase in glucose metabolism is responsible for the increase in insulin secretion. Similarly, increases in other known PRL responsive genes (e.g. the PRL receptor, glucose transporter-2, and insulin) were also detected after culture without glucose. We show that the upstream glucokinase promoter contains multiple STAT5 binding sequences with increased binding in response to PRL. Corresponding increases in glucokinase mRNA and protein synthesis were also detected. This suggests the PRL-induced increase in glucokinase mRNA and its translation are sufficient to account for the elevated glucokinase activity in β-cells with lactogens. Importantly, the increase in islet glucokinase observed with PRL is in line with that observed in islets during pregnancy.