The aim of this study was to examine the effect of aerobic exercise training on insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese girls. Nineteen overweight and obese girls (mean +/- SD: age, 13.1+/-1.8 years; body mass index, 26.8+/-3.9 kg/m(2)) volunteered for this study. Body composition (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry), insulin sensitivity (oral glucose tolerance test and homeostasis model assessment estimate of insulin resistance; n=15), adiponectin, C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin (IL) 6, insulin-like growth factor-1, soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 serum levels, and blood lipids and lipoproteins were assessed before and after 12 weeks of aerobic training. Cardiorespiratory fitness increased by 18.8% (P<.05) as a result of training. The area under the insulin concentration curve (insulin area under the curve) decreased by 23.3% (12781.7+/-7454.2 vs 9799.0+/-4918.6 microU.min/mL before and after intervention, respectively; P=.03). Insulin sensitivity was improved without changes in body weight (pre-intervention, 67.9+/-14.5 kg; post-intervention, 68.3+/-14.0 kg) or percent body fat (pre-intervention, 41.4% +/- 4.8%; post-intervention, 40.7%+/-5.2%). The lower limb fat-free mass increased by 6.2% (P<.01) as a result of training, and changes in lower limb fat-free mass were correlated with changes in the insulin area under the curve (r= -.68; P< .01). Serum adiponectin, IL-6, and CRP concentrations did not change (pre-intervention vs post-intervention: adiponectin, 9.57+/-3.01 vs 9.08+/-2.32 microg/mL; IL-6, 1.67+/-1.29 vs 1.65+/-1.25 pg/mL, CRP, 3.21+/-2.48 vs 2.73+/-1.88 mg/L) whereas insulin-like growth factor-1 was lower after training (pre-intervention, 453.8 +/- 159.3 ng/mL; post-intervention, 403.2+/- 155.1 ng/mL; P<.05). In conclusion, 12 weeks of aerobic training improved insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese girls without change in body weight, percent body fat, and circulating concentrations of adiponectin, IL-6, CRP, and other inflammatory markers. These findings suggest that increased physical activity may ameliorate the metabolic abnormalities associated with obesity in children with a mechanism other than the parameters cited earlier.