Obesity is frequently associated with insulin resistance. Recently an important role of the cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha in mediating insulin resistance of obesity through its overexpression in fat tissue has been reported. In order to examine the relation of insulin resistance to obesity and to serum neopterin, as a parameter of immune activation, we studied 1234 otherwise healthy outpatients, who visited the physician's office for a medical health check-up. 7% showed elevated glucose concentrations, 34% elevated body mass indices. There were significant correlations between glucose concentrations and body mass indices and of the latter with serum neopterin concentrations. Neopterin concentrations were significantly higher in patients with elevated body mass indices (Mann-Whitney test, U = 131 358, p = 0.0003) and elevated glucose concentrations (Mann-Whitney test, U = 35 350 p =0.02). The data may indicate that moderate immune stimulation plays a role in the development of insulin resistance, and an influence of tumor necrosis factor-alpha seems to be probable.