Hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance are commonly seen in obese and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitis (NIDDM) patients. While it is known that chronic exposure to severe hyperinsulinemia can lead to an insulin-resistant state and mild hyperinsulinemia for rather short durations (20 to 40 hours) and can also lead to insulin resistance, it is less clear whether mild hyperinsulinemia for a more prolonged duration can lead to insulin resistance. In the present study we determined the effects of chronic (28 days) exposure to mild hyperinsulinemia on insulin-stimulated glucose use. Chronic hyperinsulinemia was produced by an intraportal infusion of porcine insulin (425 microU/kg/min), which raised the basal peripheral insulin levels by approximately 50%. Insulin responsiveness was assessed using the euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp (2 mU/kg/min) in dogs before the induction of chronic hyperinsulinemia (day 0), after 28 days of hyperinsulinemia (day 28), and 28 days after discontinuation of the chronic insulin infusion (day 56). The amount of glucose (M) required to maintain euglycemia during the euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp was decreased (relative to day 0) 39% +/- 3% on day 28 and 18% +/- 3% on day 56 (P less than .05). In control animals that received a chronic infusion of saline for the 28-day period the glucose infusion rate (M) was not changed significantly (decreasing 2% +/- 5% and 5% +/- 10% on days 28 and 56, respectively). In conclusion insulin resistance can be produced by a mild hypersecretion of insulin and discontinuation of the chronic insulin infusion tends to reverse the resistance.