Genetic analyses of dwarfing phenotypes resulting from targeted mutagenesis of the genes encoding the insulin-like growth factors (IGF-I and IGF-II) and their cognate type 1 IGF receptor (IGF1R) have demonstrated that this signaling system is a major determinant of mouse embryonic growth. Of the two IGF ligands, IGF-I interacts exclusively with IGF1R, whereas IGF-II recognizes an additional receptor (XR), because the growth retardation of embryos lacking both IGR1R and IGF-II (30% of normal birthweight) is more severe than that manifested in either class of single Igf1r or Igf2 null mutants (45 and 60% of normal, respectively). To determine whether XR is the insulin receptor (IR), we examined embryos nullizygous for both Igf1r and Insr. While the growth of embryos lacking solely IR is affected very mildly and only at the end of gestation, concomitant absence of IGF1R results in a severe growth-deficiency phenotype (30% of normal size at birth) that is first detected at Embryonic Day 13.5 and is also characterized by transient edema, curly tail, generalized organ hypoplasia, including the muscles, developmental delays in ossification, and thin epidermis. The Igf1r/Insr double nullizygotes are phenotypically indistinguishable from double mutants lacking IGF1R and IGF-II and from other double and triple mutants in which all of the IGF ligand/receptor interactions have been eliminated. Therefore, these results provide genetic evidence that the growth-promoting function of IGF-II during mouse embryogenesis is mediated in part by signaling through the insulin receptor.