Although it is generally accepted that atypical antipsychotics differ in their risk for diabetic side effects, the underlying pharmacological mechanisms are unknown. Studies on the mechanisms of antipsychotic-induced hyperglycemia or insulin resistance are often confounded by the concomitant weight gain and dyslipidemia, known diabetic risk factors. To investigate whether antipsychotics can acutely cause metabolic effects before any change in body composition, we studied the effects of four atypical antipsychotics on whole-body insulin resistance. Using the hyperinsulinemic, euglycemic clamp technique in conscious rats, insulin and somatostatin were infused at a constant rate to provide constant hyperinsulinemia and to suppress pancreatic insulin secretion. Glucose was infused at a variable rate, adjusted to maintain euglycemia. At steady state, animals were administered vehicle (V) or antipsychotic and the glucose infusion rate was monitored as an index of insulin sensitivity. Clamp experiments using radiotracers and studies on glucose uptake into isolated skeletal muscle were conducted to differentiate between effects on hepatic glucose production (HGP) and on peripheral glucose uptake. Olanzapine (OLAN) and clozapine (CLOZ) acutely impaired whole-body insulin sensitivity in a dose-dependent manner (P<0.001 vs V), whereas ziprasidone and risperidone had no effect. CLOZ also induced profound insulin resistance after dosing 10 mg/kg/day for 5 days (P<0.05 vs V). Tracer studies indicated that acute changes mainly reflect increased HGP, consistent with the lack of effect on glucose uptake. OLAN and CLOZ can thus rapidly induce marked insulin resistance, which could contribute to the hyperglycemia and ketoacidosis reported for patients receiving those therapies.