This review reports the etiological aspects of insulin resistance as well as the participation of zinc in this process. Zinc participates in the metabolic pathways involving protein synthesis, and the metabolism of carbohydrate, lipid and nucleic acid. This element has been associated with the interaction between hormones and their receptors and to the improvement in the post-receptor stimulus. In vitro studies show that insulin may form a complex with zinc improving the solubility of this hormone in the pancreatic beta cells and also increasing the binding ability of insulin to its receptor. Regarding obesity and insulin resistance, alterations in zinc concentration and distribution in tissues, as well as improvement in sensitivity to insulin after supplementation with this element, have been detected. Thus, the metabolic role of zinc in the insulin resistance syndrome should be further investigated having in mind that this element may contribute to the control of the usual metabolic alterations present in obese patients.