Lagerstroemin, an ellagitannin isolated from the leaves of Lagerstroemia speciosa (L.) Pers. (Lythraceae), was examined for its biological activities. In rat adipocytes, the compound increased the rate of glucose uptake and decreased the isoproterenol-induced glycerol release. In Chinese hamster ovary cells expressing human insulin receptors, it increased the Erk activity. These insulin-like actions were accompanied by the increased tyrosine-phosphorylation of the beta-subunit of the insulin receptors. Tryptic digestion of the extracellular sites of the insulin receptors markedly increased the effective concentrations of insulin without changing those of lagerstroemin. Thus lagerstroemin was considered to cause its insulin-like actions by a mechanism different from that employed by insulin.