To look for the possible involvement of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3-kinase) in insulin action in muscle, we have used wortmannin, described as a specific inhibitor of the enzyme, and compared its effect in muscle and in adipose cells. Both in intact mouse soleus muscle and in isolated rat adipocytes, wortmannin blocked insulin effect on glucose uptake, without markedly altering basal glucose uptake. In adipocyte, this effect results from a blockade of the translocation process because wortmannin inhibited the stimulatory action of insulin on both the Glut 4 movement from the internal compartment to the plasma membranes and the Rab4 departure from the microsomes. In a similar fashion, two other insulin effects, the activation of glycogen synthase and the stimulation of amino acid uptake, were blocked by wortmannin in skeletal muscle. Lipogenesis from acetate was also inhibited by wortmannin in adipocytes. By contrast, wortmannin did not affect muscle deoxglucose uptake when it was stimulated either by okadaic acid or by the protein kinase C activator tumor promoting agent. These results suggest that, in muscle and adipocyte, PI3-kinase inhibition causes a blockade of all insulin effects studied. By contrast, wortmannin did not affect the same responses elicited in muscle by okadaic acid or tumor promoting agent.