Insulin resistance is a cardinal feature of Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and a frequent complication of multiple clinical conditions, including obesity, ageing and steroid use, among others. How such a panoply of insults can result in a common phenotype is incompletely understood. Furthermore, very little is known about the transcriptional and epigenetic basis of this disorder, despite evidence that such pathways are likely to play a fundamental role. Here, we compare cell autonomous models of insulin resistance induced by the cytokine tumour necrosis factor-α or by the steroid dexamethasone to construct detailed transcriptional and epigenomic maps associated with cellular insulin resistance. These data predict that the glucocorticoid receptor and vitamin D receptor are common mediators of insulin resistance, which we validate using gain- and loss-of-function studies. These studies define a common transcriptional and epigenomic signature in cellular insulin resistance enabling the identification of pathogenic mechanisms.