Insulin receptor substrates (Irs proteins) mediate the pleiotropic effects of insulin and Igf-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1), including regulation of glucose homeostasis and cell growth and survival. We intercrossed mice heterozygous for two null alleles (Irs1+/- and Irs2+/-) and investigated growth and glucose metabolism in mice with viable genotypes. Our experiments revealed that Irs-1 and Irs-2 are critical for embryonic and post-natal growth, with Irs-1 having the predominant role. By contrast, both Irs-1 and Irs-2 function in peripheral carbohydrate metabolism, but Irs-2 has the major role in beta-cell development and compensation for peripheral insulin resistance. To establish a role for the Igf-1 receptor in beta-cells, we intercrossed mice heterozygous for null alleles of Igf1r and Irs2. Our results reveal that Igf-1 receptors promote beta-cell development and survival through the Irs-2 signalling pathway. Thus, Irs-2 integrates the effects of insulin in peripheral target tissues with Igf-1 in pancreatic beta-cells to maintain glucose homeostasis.