Most studies of insulin sensitivity in puberty have been cross-sectional and have not been able to longitudinally address changes that might occur. In addition, these studies were unable to separate out glucose's ability to stimulate its own disposal (glucose effectiveness, S(G)) from insulin sensitivity (S(I)) or to separate the hepatic and peripheral effects of insulin. To address these problems, we used the frequently sampled i.v. glucose tolerance test with [6,6]D2 glucose to study S(G)* and S(I)* in 24 children (Tanner stage 1-3) at 6-mo intervals over an 18-mo period. Mean overnight GH and fasting GH binding protein (GHBP), IGF-1, and leptin levels were also measured. S(G)* did not differ between the sexes or Tanner stages. S(I)* did not differ between Tanner stages for either sex and was higher in boys than in girls. Hepatic insulin resistance did not differ between sexes or Tanner stages. S(G)* was not related to any of the other variables measured. S(I)* was negatively related to BMI, GHBP, IGF1, and leptin. These results demonstrate that insulin sensitivity is greater in prepubertal and early pubertal boys than in girls and is primarily determined by body mass effects.