Obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus are characterized by insulin resistance, reduced bioavailability of the antiatherosclerotic signaling molecule nitric oxide (NO), and accelerated atherosclerosis. IGF-I, the principal growth-stimulating peptide, which shares many of the effects of insulin, may, like insulin, also be involved in metabolic and vascular homeostasis. We examined the effects of IGF-I on NO bioavailability and the effect of obesity/type 2 diabetes mellitus on IGF-I actions at a whole-body level and in the vasculature. In aortic rings IGF-I blunted phenylephrine-mediated vasoconstriction and relaxed rings preconstricted with phenylephrine, an effect blocked by N(G)-monomethyl L-arginine. IGF-I increased NO synthase activity to an extent similar to that seen with insulin and in-vivo IGF-I led to serine phosphorylation of endothelial NO synthase (eNOS). Mice rendered obese using a high-fat diet were less sensitive to the glucose-lowering effects of insulin and IGF-I. IGF-I increased aortic phospho-eNOS levels in lean mice, an effect that was blunted in obese mice. eNOS activity in aortae of lean mice increased 1.6-fold in response to IGF-I compared with obese mice. IGF-I-mediated vasorelaxation was blunted in obese mice. These data demonstrate that IGF-I increases eNOS phosphorylation in-vivo, increases eNOS activity, and leads to NO-dependent relaxation of conduit vessels. Obesity is associated with resistance to IGF-I at a whole-body level and in the endothelium. Vascular IGF-I resistance may represent a novel therapeutic target to prevent or slow the accelerated vasculopathy seen in humans with obesity or type 2 diabetes mellitus.