Insulin resistance is a component of the pathophysiology of both type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), but is also characteristic of normal glycemic physiology during pregnancy. In recent years, many studies have tried to understand determinants of insulin resistance in normal pregnancy and GDM, revealing that the placenta is capable of secreting many cytokines and hormones, classically considered as adipokines. More specifically, it appears that leptin and TNFα could be implicated in gestational insulin resistance and GDM pathophysiology. In addition, the maternal metabolic milieu was also identified as a key determinant of later insulin resistance in offspring, a phenomenon often described as 'fetal programming'. This article reviews the established risk factors and the more novel suspected biomarkers involved in maternal insulin resistance during pregnancy as well as the maternal and early life determinants of insulin resistance in offspring later in their life. We are also highlighting recent reports of the potential mechanisms involved in 'programming' of insulin resistance such as epigenetic modulation.