Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with a continuous systemic inflammatory response. Furthermore, COPD is associated with an excess risk for cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes. Systemic inflammation in other populations is a factor in atherogenesis and has been associated with insulin resistance. We assessed the association between systemic inflammation and insulin resistance in non-hypoxaemic patients with COPD. Fasting plasma glucose, insulin and inflammatory mediators were measured in 56 patients and 29 healthy subjects. Body mass index (BMI) and height squared fat- and fat-free-mass index were similar between subject groups. Using homeostatic modelling techniques, mean (SD) insulin resistance was greater in the patients, 1.68 (2.58) and 1.13 (2.02) in healthy subjects, p=0.032. Fasting plasma insulin was increased in patients while glucose was similar to that in healthy subjects. Patients had increased circulating inflammatory mediators. Insulin resistance was related to interleukin-6 (IL-6), r=0.276, p=0.039, and tumour necrosis factor alpha soluble receptor I, r=0.351, p=0.008. Both IL-6 and BMI were predictive variables of insulin resistance r(2)=0.288, p<0.05. We demonstrated greater insulin resistance in non-hypoxaemic patients with COPD compared with healthy subjects, which was related to systemic inflammation. This relationship may indicate a contributory factor in the excess risk of cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes in COPD.