Mitochondrial functions are crucial for pancreatic β-cell survival and glucose-induced insulin secretion. Hexarelin (Hex) is a synthetic small peptide ghrelin analogue, which has been shown to protect cardiomyocytes from the ischemia-reperfusion process. In this study, we used in vitro and in vivo models of streptozotocin (STZ)-induced β-cell damage to study the protective effect of Hex and the associated mechanisms. We found that STZ produced a cytotoxic effect in a dose- and time-dependent manner in MIN6 cells (a mouse β-cell line). Hex (1.0 μM) decreased the STZ-induced damage in β-cells. Rhodamine 123 assay and superoxide DHE production assay revealed that Hex ameliorated STZ-induced mitochondrial damage and excessive superoxide activity in β-cells. In addition, Hex significantly reduced STZ-induced expression of cleaved Caspases-3, Caspases-9 and the ratio of proapoptotic protein Bax to anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 in MIN6 cells. We further examined the in vivo effect of Hex in a rat model of type 1 diabetes induced by STZ injection. Hex ameliorated STZ-induced decrease in plasma insulin and protected the structure of islets from STZ-induced disruption. Hex also ameliorated STZ-induced expression of cleaved Caspase-9 and the Bax in β-cells. In conclusion, our data indicate that Hex is able to protects β- cell mass from STZ-caused cytotoxic effects involving mitochondrial pathways in vitro and in vivo. Hex may serve as a potential protective agent for the management of diabetes.