Long-term denervation is associated with insulin resistance. To investigate the molecular bases of insulin resistance, the downstream signaling molecules of insulin receptor including insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-K) were examined in skeletal muscle of rats after 7 days of denervation. Long-term denervation attenuated insulin-stimulated activation of the initial steps of the intracellular signaling pathway. Insulin-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of insulin receptor was reduced to 36% (P < .005), as was the phosphorylation of IRS-1 to 34% (P < .0001) of control. While insulin receptor protein level was unchanged, the protein expression of IRS-1 was significantly decreased in denervated muscles. Insulin-stimulated percent tyrosine phosphorylation of IRS-1, normalized to the IRS-1 protein expression, was also reduced to 55% (P < .01) of control in denervated muscle. Denervation caused a decline in the insulin-induced binding of p85 regulatory subunit of PI 3-K to IRS-1 to 61% (P < .001) and IRS-1-associated PI 3-K activity to 57% (P < .01). These results provide evidence that long-term denervation results in insulin resistance because of derangements at multiple points, including tyrosine phosphorylation of insulin receptor and its downstream signaling molecule, IRS-1, protein expression of IRS-1, and activation of PI 3-K.