Islet transplantation is an effective therapy for severe diabetes. Nevertheless, the short supply of donor pancreases constitutes a formidable obstacle to its extensive clinical application. This shortage heightens the need for alternative sources of insulin-producing beta cells. Since mature beta cells have a very slow proliferation rate, which further declines with age, great efforts have been made to identify beta cell progenitors in the adult pancreas. However, the question whether facultative beta cell progenitors indeed exist in the adult pancreas remains largely unresolved. In the current review, we discuss the problems in past studies and review the milestone studies and recent publications.