The aim of the present study was to investigate changes occurring in the number of beta cells, as well as the expressions of Ngn-3, nestin and Pdx-1 of pancreatic progenitor cells in the pancreas of experimentally-induced adult diabetic rats and to determine the effect of orally-administered lycopene on these changes. Following the administration of 50 mg/kg streptozotocin to rats, four groups of animals were established: control+corn oil, control+lycopene, diabetic+corn oil and diabetic+lycopene. The animals in the control+lycopene and diabetic+lycopene groups received 4 mg/kg lycopene for a period of four weeks. The expressions of insulin, Ngn-3, nestin, and Pdx-1 were determined through immunohistochemistry in sections taken from pancreas tissue samples at the end of the experiment. The number of insulin-positive cells was found to be significantly low in the diabetic groups compared to the control groups. In addition, the presence of Ngn-3 and nestin-positive cells within the exocrine pancreas surrounding the islands was noted in the diabetic groups. Lycopene, in general did not have any effect in any of the parameters analyzed in the present study. It is suggested that these cells would function as stem cells to replace the lost beta-cell population. It is also suggested that it is possible to demonstrate the antioxidant effects of lycopene in the pancreas of diabetic rats by increasing the dose and duration of lycopene administration. Anat Rec, 300:2200-2207, 2017. (c) 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.