The desert gerbil Psammomys obesus ("sand rat"), a model of nutritionally induced insulin resistance and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, was treated after weaning with exogenous insulin implants in the normoglycaemic, normoinsulinaemic state. Albino rats matched for weight and age served as high energy diet adjusted reference animals. Insulin administration, elevating the serum insulin to 6000 pmol/l resulted in only a mild reduction in blood glucose levels in Psammomys, but caused a severe, often fatal hypoglycaemia in the albino rats. The hepatic response to insulin-induced hypoglycaemia in rats involved a significant loss in glycogen and suppression of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) activity. In Psammomys under similar hyperinsulinaemia no appreciable changes in liver glycogen and PEPCK activity were evident, indicating that blood glucose was replenished by continuing gluconeogenesis. Euglycaemic, hyperinsulinaemic clamp caused a complete shut-down of hepatic glucose production in albino rats. However, in both diabetes-prone and diabetes-resistant Psammomys lines, mean hepatic glucose production was reduced by only 62 to 53% respectively, despite longer lasting and higher levels of hyperinsulinaemia. These results indicate that Psammomys is characterized by muscle and liver insulin resistance prior to diet-induced hyperglycaemia and hyperinsulinaemia. This is assumed to be a species feature of Psammomys, exemplifying a metabolic adjustment to survival in conditions of food scarcity of both animal and human populations. It may reflect a propensity to insulin resistance and hyperglycaemia in population groups exposed to affluent nutrition.