A metabolic hypothesis is presented for insulin resistance in obesity, in the presence or absence of Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus. It is based on physiological mechanisms including a series of negative feed-back mechanisms, with the inhibition of the function of the glycogen cycle in skeletal muscle as a consequence of decreased glucose utilization resulting from increased lipid oxidation in the obese. It considers the inhibition of glycogen synthase activity together with inhibition of glucose storage and impaired glucose tolerance. The prolonged duration of increased lipid oxidation, considered as the initial cause, may lead to Type 2 diabetes. This hypothesis is compatible with others based on the inhibition of insulin receptor kinase and of glucose transporter activities.