Puberty is characterized by temporary insulin resistance, which subsides with the completion of pubertal development. This insulin resistance is manifested by lower rates of insulin-stimulated glucose metabolism and compensatory hyperinsulinemia in pubertal compared with prepubertal children. Whether or not pubertal insulin resistance is the result of sex steroids or GH or a combination of both has been investigated in our laboratory. Previously, we demonstrated that T treatment in adolescents with delayed puberty was not associated with the deterioration of insulin action. The present investigation evaluated the effects of 4 months of dihydrotestosterone administration (50 mg im every 2 wk) on body composition, glucose, fat, and protein metabolism, and insulin sensitivity. Ten adolescents with delayed puberty were evaluated before and after 4 months of DHT administration. Body composition was assessed by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. Insulin-stimulated glucose metabolism was measured during a 3-h hyperinsulinemic (40 mU/m(2).min)-euglycemic clamp procedure. Lipolysis and proteolysis were evaluated by stable isotopes of [(2)H(5)]glycerol and [1-(13)C]leucine. After 4 months of dihydrotestosterone treatment, height, weight, and fat free mass increased and percentage of body fat decreased. IGF-I and nocturnal GH levels did not change. There was no significant change in insulin-stimulated glucose metabolism (57.2 +/- 3.9 vs. 58.3 +/- 3.9 micromol/kg.min). Total body proteolysis and lipolysis did not change. In summary, based on the present and past studies, we conclude that during puberty insulin resistance/hyperinsulinemia is not attributable to gonadal sex steroids in boys.