The aim of insulin replacement therapy is to normalize blood glucose in order to reduce the complications of diabetes. The pharmacokinetics of the traditional insulin preparations, however, do not match the profiles of physiological insulin secretion. The introduction of the rDNA technology 20 years ago opened new ways to create insulin analogs with altered properties. Fast-acting analogs are based on the idea that an insulin with less tendency to self-association than human insulin would be more readily absorbed into the systemic circulation. Protracted-acting analogs have been created to mimic the slow, steady rate of insulin secretion in the fasting state. The present paper provides a historical review of the efforts to change the physicochemical and pharmacological properties of insulin in order to improve insulin therapy. The available clinical studies of the new insulins are surveyed and show, together with modeling results, that new strategies for optimal basal-bolus treatment are required for utilization of the new fast-acting analogs.