The aim of the study was to examine the association of muscular strength with markers of insulin resistance in European adolescents. The study comprised a total of 1,053 adolescents (499 males; 12.5-17.5 years) from ten European cities participating in the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence (HELENA) Cross-Sectional Study. Muscular strength was measured by the handgrip strength and standing long jump tests. Cardiorespiratory fitness was measured by the 20-m shuttle run test. Fasting insulin and glucose were measured and the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) and quantitative insulin sensitivity check index (QUICKI) indices were calculated. Weight, height, waist circumference and skinfold thickness were measured, and body mass index (BMI) was calculated. In males, the handgrip strength and standing long jump tests were negatively associated with fasting insulin and HOMA (all P < 0.05) after controlling for pubertal status, country and BMI or waist circumference. When skinfold thickness was included in the model, the association became non-significant. In females, the standing long jump test was negatively associated with fasting insulin and HOMA (all P < 0.001) after controlling for pubertal status, country and surrogate markers of total or central body fat (BMI, waist circumference or skinfold thickness). Findings were retained in males, but not in females after controlling for cardiorespiratory fitness. The findings of the present study suggest that preventive strategies should focus not only on decreasing fatness and increasing cardiorespiratory fitness but also on enhancing muscular strength.