The ability of insulin to induce alpha1B-adrenoceptor phosphorylation and desensitization was tested in two model systems: rat-1 cells that stably express alpha1B-adrenoceptors, through transfection, and endogenously express insulin receptors and DDT1 MF2 cells that endogenously express both receptors. Insulin induced concentration-dependent increases in the phosphorylation state of the adrenergic receptors in the two models with similar EC50 values (0.5-2 nM). The effect was rapid in the two systems but it was sustained in rat-1 cells and transient in DDT1 MF2 cells. In both cell lines, the insulin-mediated phosphorylation of alpha1B-adrenoceptors was blocked by wortmannin and LY 294002, and by staurosporine and bisindolylmaleimide I, indicating that the effect involved phosphoinositide 3-kinase and protein kinase C activities. The adrenoceptor phosphorylation induced by insulin was associated to desensitization as evidences by a diminished elevation of intracellular calcium in response to noradrenaline. Inhibitors of phosphoinositide 3-kinase and protein kinase C blocked the functional desensitization induced by insulin.