The interaction of insulin with its cell surface receptor is the first step in insulin action and the first identified target of insulin resistance. The insulin resistance in several syndromic forms of extreme insulin resistance has been shown to be caused by mutations in the receptor gene. We studied 8 female patients with the type A form of extreme insulin resistance and 3 patients (2 male and 1 female) with the Rabson-Mendenhall syndrome and followed the natural history of these patients for up to 30 years. The 11 patients ranged in age from 7 to 32 years at presentation. All 11 patients had extreme insulin resistance, acanthosis nigricans, and hyperandrogenism in the female patients, and all but 1 were of normal body weight. This phenotype strongly predicts mutations in the insulin receptor: of the 8 patients studied, 7 were found to have mutations. Similar results from the literature are found in other patients with type A and Rabson-Mendenhall syndromes and leprechaunism. The hyperandrogenic state resulting from hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance in these patients was extreme: 6 of 8 patients had ovarian surgery to correct the polycystic ovarian syndrome and elevation of serum testosterone. By contrast, a larger group of insulin-resistant patients who were obese with hyperandrogenism, insulin resistance, and acanthosis nigricans (HAIR-AN syndrome) did not have a high probability of mutations in the insulin receptor. The morbidity and mortality of these patients were high: 3 of 11 died, 9 of 11 were diabetic and 1 had impaired glucose tolerance, and 7 of 9 patients had 1 or more severe complication of diabetes. Our literature review revealed that the mortality of leprechaunism is so high that the term leprechaunism should be restricted to infants or young children under 2 years of age. Analogous to patients with the common forms of type 2 diabetes, these patients had a heterogeneous course. In 2 patients who were able to maintain extremely high endogenous insulin production, the fasting blood glucose remained normal even though post-glucose-challenge levels were elevated. Most patients, however, required large doses of exogenous insulin to ameliorate the severe hyperglycemia. Preliminary results of a recent study suggest that recombinant leptin administration may benefit these patients with severe insulin resistance.