To investigate the early defects of glucose metabolism in insulin-sensitive type 2 diabetes, we performed oral and frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance tests (OGTT and FSIGT) with minimal model analysis in 15 offspring of Japanese type 2 diabetics with normal insulin sensitivity (insulin resistance index of homeostasis model assessment [HOMA-R] < 2.0) and in 20 healthy control subjects without a family history of type 2 diabetes. The frequency of impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) was 40% (6 of 15) in the offspring and 0% (0 of 20) in the controls. Fasting plasma glucose (4.8 +/- 0.1 v4.6 +/- 0.1 mmol/L, P = .18) and immunoreactive insulin ([IRI] 29.9 +/- 2.5 v 28.3 +/- 2.5 pmol/L, P = .64) were comparable between the offspring and the controls. The rate of glucose disappearance (KG) was significantly lower in the offspring versus the control group (2.00 +/- 0.22 v 2.60 +/- 0.17 min(-1), P= .03). The insulin sensitivity index (Si) was significantly greater in the offspring versus the controls (2.68 +/- 0.41 v 1.71 +/- 0.17 x 10(-4) min(-1) x pmol/L , P = .02). First-phase insulin secretion (FPI) to intravenous glucose was significantly lower in the offspring versus the control group (886 +/- 110 v 2,296 +/- 267 min x pmol/L, P< .01). Glucose effectiveness (SG) was comparable between the offspring and control groups. The disposition index (Si x FPI) was significantly lower in the offspring versus the controls (2,106 +/- 256 v 3,652 +/- 490 x 10(-4), P = .02). When the offspring were subdivided into 2 groups by glucose tolerance status, both normal glucose tolerance (NGT) offspring and IGT offspring showed a significant decrease in FPI and increase in Si. Thus, although the offspring of insulin-sensitive type 2 diabetics had increased insulin sensitivity, the impairment in insulin secretion was more dominant. Our results suggest that the early metabolic abnormality in insulin-sensitive type 2 diabetes is an insulin secretory dysfunction despite increased insulin sensitivity.