Elevated plasma insulin and triglyceride (TG) and decreased high-density-lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol concentrations have been shown to be risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD). It has been suggested that these metabolic abnormalities are all secondary to resistance to insulin-stimulated glucose uptake. To examine this in more detail, we divided 18 non-diabetic, moderately overweight, sedentary men aged 25-50 years into three groups on the basis of their steady-state plasma glucose levels (SSPG): a low group, (n = 7; SSPG less than 8.3 mmol l-1), a middle group, (n = 6; SSPG 8.3-11.1 mmol l-1), and a high group (n = 5; SSPG greater than 11.1 mmol l-1). The high group had significantly higher fasting (P less than 0.05) and post-oral glucose challenge (P less than 0.01) insulin concentrations, higher fasting TG (P less than 0.05) and lower fasting HDL-cholesterol (P less than 0.05) concentrations than the other two groups. However, there were no statistically significant differences between the groups with regard to body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio or physical endurance capacity as determined by maximal oxygen consumption during a treadmill test. The data suggest that insulin resistance has an effect on the modulation of plasma insulin, TG and HDL-cholesterol concentrations, independent of generalized, abdominal or physical endurance capacity.