Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1), the mammalian homolog of SIR2, was originally identified as a NAD-dependent histone deacetylase, the activity of which is closely associated with lifespan under calorie restriction. Growing evidence suggests that SIRT1 regulates glucose or lipid metabolism through its deacetylase activity for over two dozen known substrates, and has a positive role in the metabolic pathway through its direct or indirect involvement in insulin signaling. SIRT1 stimulates a glucose-dependent insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells, and directly stimulates insulin signaling pathways in insulin-sensitive organs. Furthermore, SIRT1 regulates adiponectin secretion, inflammatory responses, gluconeogenesis, and levels of reactive oxygen species, which together contribute to the development of insulin resistance. Moreover, overexpression of SIRT1 and several SIRT1 activators has beneficial effects on glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity in obese mice models. These findings suggest that SIRT1 might be a new therapeutic target for the prevention of disease related to insulin resistance, such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes mellitus, although direct evidence from clinical studies in humans is needed to prove this possibility. In this Review, we discuss the potential role and therapeutic promise of SIRT1 in insulin resistance on the basis of the latest experimental studies.