Type 2 diabetes has been increasing in children, mostly affecting minority populations at around the age of puberty. Despite a multitude of studies demonstrating pubertal insulin resistance/hyperinsulinemia in white children, data are almost non-existent in African-American children. The aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of puberty on glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity and secretion in African-American children. Twenty prepubertal and 16 pubertal African-American subjects participated. All underwent a 3-h hyperinsulinemic (40 mU/m(2)/min) euglycemic clamp to determine insulin-stimulated glucose disposal, and a 2-h hyperglycemic (12.5 mmol/L) clamp to assess first- and second-phase insulin secretion. Body composition was assessed by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and visceral and subcutaneous abdominal adiposity with computed tomography (CT) scan at L4-L5. Total glucose disposal, glucose oxidation and non-oxidative glucose disposal were significantly lower in the pubertal group compared with the prepubertal one (53.8 +/- 3.9 vs. 72.2 +/- 5.0 micromol/kg/min, p = 0.009; 23.3 +/- 1.1 vs. 31.6 +/- 1.7 micromol/kg/min, p = 0.001; and 30.0 +/- 3.3 vs. 40.5 +/- 3.9 micromol/kg/min, p = 0.049, respectively). Insulin sensitivity was approximately 30% lower in the adolescents compared with the prepubertal children. However, first- and second-phase insulin secretions were not different between the two groups (971.4 +/- 180.6 vs. 1044.0 +/- 191.4 pmol/L and 999.6 +/- 159.6 vs. 955.8 +/- 142.2 pmol/L, respectively). In conclusion, despite approximately 30% lower insulin sensitivity in African-American adolescents compared with prepubertal children, insulin secretion is not higher. This is in contrast to published findings in white children in whom insulin secretion is higher during puberty. These racial differences in physiologic adaptation to puberty could play a role in the higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes in African-American children at the time of puberty.