Previous studies suggested that protein-tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B) antagonizes insulin action by catalyzing dephosphorylation of the insulin receptor (IR) and/or other key proteins in the insulin signaling pathway. In adipose tissue and muscle of obese humans and rodents, PTP1B expression is increased, which led to the hypothesis that PTP1B plays a role in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance. Consistent with this, mice in which the PTP1B gene was disrupted exhibit increased insulin sensitivity. To test whether increased expression of PTP1B in an insulin-sensitive cell type could contribute to insulin resistance, we overexpressed wild-type PTP1B in 3T3L1 adipocytes using adenovirus-mediated gene delivery. PTP1B expression was increased approximately 3-5-fold above endogenous levels at 16 h, approximately 14-fold at 40 h, and approximately 20-fold at 72 h post-transduction. Total protein-tyrosine phosphatase activity was increased by 50% at 16 h, 3-4-fold at 40 h, and 5-6-fold at 72 h post-transduction. Compared with control cells, cells expressing high levels of PTP1B showed a 50-60% decrease in maximally insulin-stimulated tyrosyl phosphorylation of IR and insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) and phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) activity associated with IRS-1 or with phosphotyrosine. Akt phosphorylation and activity were unchanged. Phosphorylation of p42 and p44 MAP kinase (MAPK) was reduced approximately 32%. Overexpression of PTP1B had no effect on basal, submaximally or maximally (100 nm) insulin-stimulated glucose transport or on the EC(50) for transport. Our results suggest that: 1) insulin stimulation of glucose transport in adipocytes requires </=45% of maximal tyrosyl phosphorylation of IR or IRS-1 and <50% of maximal activation of PI3K, 2) a novel PI3K-independent pathway may play a role in insulin-induced glucose transport in adipocytes, and 3) overexpression of PTP1B alone in adipocytes does not impair glucose transport.