Insulin resistance is a major pathologic feature of human obesity and diabetes. Understanding the fundamental mechanisms underlying this insulin resistance has been advanced by the recent cloning of the genes encoding a family of facilitated diffusion glucose transporters which are expressed in characteristic patterns in mammalian tissues. Two of these transporters, GLUT1 and GLUT4, are present in muscle and adipose cells, tissues in which glucose transport is markedly stimulated by insulin. To understand the mechanisms underlying in vivo insulin resistance, regulation of these transporters is being investigated. Studies reveal divergent changes in the expression of GLUT1 and GLUT4 in a single cell type as well as tissue specific regulation. Importantly, alterations in glucose transport in rodent models of diabetes and in human obesity and diabetes cannot be entirely explained by changes in glucose transporter expression. This suggests that defects in glucose transporter function such as impaired translocation, fusion with the plasma membrane, or activation probably contribute importantly to in vivo insulin resistance.