Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is reported to inhibit autophagy of human colorectal carcinoma cells (HCT); however, little is known regarding the mechanisms underlying the inhibitory effect of IGF-1 on autophagy in HCT resistant strains. The present study aimed to analyze the inhibitory effect of IGF-1 on the autophagy of HCT resistant strains and its potential underlying mechanisms. The viability and apoptosis of HCT-8 colon cancer cells were analyzed, and expression levels of relevant genes and proteins were investigated using reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction and western blot analysis, respectively. Treatment of cells with IGF-1 induced apoptosis. IGF-1 treatment activated protein kinase B (AKT), which may inhibit autophagy via the AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin signaling pathway. Following inhibition of autophagy, drug resistant cells became sensitive to apoptosis induced by 5-fluorouracil.