To investigate the time course of glucose metabolism in obesity 33 patients (21 to 69 years old; body mass index [BMI], 25.7 to 53.3 kg/m2) with different degrees of glucose intolerance or diabetes who had been studied initially and 6 years later were submitted to the same 100-g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) with indirect calorimetry. From a group of 13 obese subjects with normal glucose tolerance (NGT), four developed impaired glucose tolerance (IGT); from a group of nine patients with IGT, three developed non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM); five of six obese NIDDM subjects with high insulin response developed NIDDM with low insulin response. Five patients had diabetes with hypoinsulinemia initially. As previously seen in a cross-sectional study, the 3-hour glucose storage measured by continuous indirect calorimetry remained unaltered in patients with IGT, whereas it decreased in NIDDM patients. A further decrease in glucose storage was observed with the lowering of the insulin response in the previously hyperinsulinemic diabetics. These results confirm cross-sectional studies that suggest successive phases in the evolution of obesity to diabetes: A, NGT; B, IGT (the hyperglycemia normalizing the glucose storage over 3 hours); C, diabetes with increased insulin response, where hyperglycemia does not correct the resistance to glucose storage anymore; and D, diabetes with low insulin response, with a low glucose storage and an elevated fasting and postload glycemia.