The effects of oligomerization and liposomal entrapment on pulmonary insulin absorption were investigated in rats using an intratracheal instillation method. The results indicated that both dimeric and hexameric insulins can be rapidly absorbed into the systemic circulation, producing a significant hypoglycemic response. Intratracheal instillation of insulin in two different oligomerized states has not resulted in any significant difference in the duration of hypoglycemic effect. However, the initial hypoglycemic response (first 10 min) obtained from intratracheal administration of 25 IU/kg hexameric insulin appears to be slower than that from the 25 IU/kg dimeric insulin, thereby suggesting that hexameric insulin may have a lower permeability coefficient across alveolar epithelium than the dimeric insulin. Intratracheal administration of insulin liposomes (dipalmitoylphosphatidyl choline:cholesterol, 7:2) led to facilitated pulmonary uptake of insulin and enhanced the hypoglycemic effect. Nevertheless, similar insulin uptake and pharmacodynamic response were obtained from both the physical mixture of insulin and blank liposomes and liposomally entrapped insulin.