Previous studies have shown that hyperinsulinism is associated with hyperandrogenism in patients with the polycystic ovary syndrome, a form of functional ovarian hyperandrogenism (FOH). Although many studies have documented insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia in polycystic ovary syndrome, the relative roles of insulin secretion and clearance in the pathogenesis of the hyperinsulinism remain uncertain. In this study, using individually derived C-peptide kinetic parameters, insulin secretion rates were calculated directly from plasma C-peptide concentrations in 10 patients with FOH and 7 weight-matched control subjects. All subjects were studied during a 24-h period when they ate a standardized diet consisting of 3 mixed meals. On a separate occasion, insulin sensitivity was calculated during a hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp. Although glucose concentrations in both groups were within the normal range, the FOH group had higher basal (P < 0.01) and 24-h insulin (P < 0.04) concentrations. The increased insulin concentrations reflected both a reduced clearance (P < 0.02) and an increased secretion of insulin. Basal insulin secretion rates were significantly increased (P < 0.04) in the FOH patients. By contrast, their incremental insulin secretory response to meals was markedly reduced. This reduction in the postprandial responses resulted from a reduction in the relative amplitude of meal-related (P < 0.007) secretory pulses, rather than from a reduction in the number of pulses present. Insulin sensitivity was also lower in those with FOH. Thus, women with FOH have significantly higher basal insulin secretory rates and attenuated secretory responses to meals. These secretory patterns resemble those of noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus more than they do those of simple obesity.