The aim of this study was to determine whether cinnamon extract (CE) would improve the glucose utilization in normal male Wistar rats fed a high-fructose diet (HFD) for three weeks with or without CE added to the drinking water (300 mg/kg/day). In vivo glucose utilization was measured by the euglycemic clamp technique. Further analyses on the possible changes in insulin signaling occurring in skeletal muscle were performed afterwards by Western blotting. At 3 mU/kg/min insulin infusions, the decreased glucose infusion rate (GIR) in HFD-fed rats (60 % of controls, p < 0.01) was improved by CE administration to the same level of controls (normal chow diet) and the improving effect of CE on the GIR of HFD-fed rats was blocked by approximately 50 % by N-monometyl-L-arginine. The same tendency was found during the 30 mU/kg/min insulin infusions. There were no differences in skeletal muscle insulin receptor (IR)-beta, IR substrate (IRS)-1, or phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3-kinase protein content in any groups. However, the muscular insulin-stimulated IR-beta and IRS-1 tyrosine phosphorylation levels and IRS-1 associated with PI 3-kinase in HFD-fed rats were only 70 +/- 9 %, 76 +/- 5 %, and 72 +/- 6 % of controls (p < 0.05), respectively, and these decreases were significantly improved by CE treatment. These results suggest that early CE administration to HFD-fed rats would prevent the development of insulin resistance at least in part by enhancing insulin signaling and possibly via the NO pathway in skeletal muscle.