An 84-kDa group VI phospholipase A2 (iPLA2) that does not require Ca2+ for catalysis has been cloned from Chinese hamster ovary cells, murine P388D1 cells, and pancreatic islet β-cells. A housekeeping role for iPLA2 in generating lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) acceptors for arachidonic acid incorporation into phosphatidylcholine (PC) has been proposed because iPLA2 inhibition reduces LPC levels and suppresses arachidonate incorporation and phospholipid remodeling in P388D1 cells. Because islet β-cell phospholipids are enriched in arachidonate, we have examined the role of iPLA2 in arachidonate incorporation into islets and INS-1 insulinoma cells. Inhibition of iPLA2 with a bromoenol lactone (BEL) suicide substrate did not suppress and generally enhanced [3H]arachidonate incorporation into these cells in the presence or absence of extracellular calcium at varied time points and BEL concentrations. Arachidonate incorporation into islet phospholipids involved deacylation-reacylation and not de novo synthesis, as indicated by experiments with varied extracellular glucose concentrations and by examining [14C]glucose incorporation into phospholipids. BEL also inhibited islet cytosolic phosphatidate phosphohydrolase (PAPH), but the PAPH inhibitor propranolol did not affect arachidonate incorporation into islet or INS-1 cell phospholipids. Inhibition of islet iPLA2 did not alter the phospholipid head-group classes into which [3H]arachidonate was initially incorporated or its subsequent transfer from PC to other lipids. Electrospray ionization mass spectrometric measurements indicated that inhibition of INS-1 cell iPLA2 accelerated arachidonate incorporation into PC and that inhibition of islet iPLA2 reduced LPC levels by 25%, suggesting that LPC mass does not limit arachidonate incorporation into is let PC. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry measurements indicated that BEL but not propranolol suppressed insulin secretagogue-induced hydrolysis of arachidonate from islet phospholipids. In islets and INS-1 cells, iPLA2 is thus not required for arachidonate incorporation or phospholipid remodeling and may play other roles in these cells.