The study was performed to determine the relationship between urinary albumin excretion (UAE) and resistance to insulin-mediated glucose disposal in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Twenty-five non-obese male patients were enrolled; UAE rates were determined on two 24-hour urine collections, and resistance to insulin-mediated glucose disposal was quantified by measurement of steady-state plasma glucose (SSPG) and steady-state plasma insulin concentrations during the last 30 minutes of a 180-minute infusion of somatostatin, insulin, and glucose. Twenty-four-hour urine UAE rates varied from 6 to 112 microgram/min, and microalbuminuria (> 20 microgram/min) was present in seven of 25 patients. SSPG concentration ranged from 158 to 419 mg/dL, and there was no relationship between UAE rates and SSPG concentration (r = .16, P = NS). Furthermore, the mean SSPG concentration was not significantly different in seven patients with microalbuminuria compared with 18 normoalbuminuric subjects (318 +/- 20 v 298 +/- 17 mg/dL). Thus, resistance to insulin-mediated glucose disposal occurs in patients with NIDDM in the absence of microalbuminuria, and we could not detect any relationship between UAE and insulin resistance in this population.