The long-term effects of early under- and overfeeding on glucose metabolism and fat cell lipogenesis were studied. Newborn rats were reared in litter sizes of four, 10, and 16 pups. The amount of milk intake per pup varied inversely with litter sizes. A subgroup of pups from each group was studied at age 20 d, whereas another subgroup was weaned to an ad libitum feeding of standard rat chow and studied at 12 wk of age. There were no differences among groups in food intake on the basis of per gram body weight. Overfeeding during suckling resulted in fatter rats at weaning and in the adults. The higher fat contents in the adipose tissues and carcasses were associated with higher fatty acid synthase and lipogenic activities in the adipose tissues at weaning and 12 wk of age. Differences in plasma insulin and glucose levels among groups were observed only in the 20-d-old rats: basal insulin and glucose levels and 30-min postglucose insulin levels were highest in the overnourished and lowest in the undernourished rats. However, by 12 wk of age, there were no significant differences among groups in their basal insulin and glucose levels and after an oral dose of glucose. Our results suggest that overfeeding or underfeeding during the suckling period affects the glucose-insulin axis only temporarily and not permanently, but early overfeeding permanently enhances fatty acid synthase and lipogenic activities in adipose tissues, resulting in fatter adult rats.