IGF-I stimulates insulin-like actions directly through its receptor, and it also enhances sensitivity to insulin-mediated effects in vivo. These studies were undertaken to analyze the role of IGF-I, insulin, and insulin/IGF-I hybrid receptors (HRs) in mediating IGF-I and insulin signaling in cells that had been made insulin-resistant by treatment with glucosamine. Human HepG2 cells, which express IGF-I receptors, insulin receptors (IRs), and IGF-I/insulin HRs, were exposed to 20 mM glucosamine; and the effects of IGF-I and insulin in stimulating glycogen synthesis were determined. An overnight exposure to glucosamine markedly attenuated the effects of insulin and IGF-I in stimulating glycogen synthesis. To determine which receptors were mediating this effect, the ability of insulin and IGF-I to stimulate phosphorylation of their respective receptors was analyzed. An 18-h exposure to glucosamine (20 mM) caused a 75% reduction in the ability of IGF-I to phosphorylate its receptor but no change in receptor abundance. Glucosamine also caused a major reduction in insulin-stimulated receptor phosphorylation, although, unlike IGF-I, there was also a 50% reduction in IR abundance. Exposure to glucosamine also resulted in a reduction in the ability of IGF-I or insulin to stimulate phosphorylation of insulin IGF-I/HRs. The combination of insulin plus IGF-I was a more potent stimulus of HR phosphorylation than either agent alone, and this combination was also more potent in partially reversing the inhibitory effect of glucosamine. Taken together, these findings indicate that glucosamine induces a loss of sensitivity to stimulation of insulin, IGF-I, or HR tyrosine kinase activity by insulin or IGF-I. Although insulin is able to partially reverse the effect of glucosamine on IR phosphorylation, it has a very minimal effect on glucosamine-induced inhibition of HR phosphorylation. However, the combination of IGF-I and insulin induces a major increase in HR phosphorylation, even in the presence of glucosamine, suggesting that it is improving the sensitivity of the HR to insulin activation.