The prevalence of insulin resistance in the most common metabolic disorders is still an undefined issue. We assessed the prevalence rates of insulin resistance in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), NIDDM, dyslipidemia, hyperuricemia, and hypertension as identified within the frame of the Bruneck Study. The study comprised an age- and sex-stratified random sample of the general population (n = 888; aged 40-79 years). Insulin resistance was estimated by homeostasis model assessment (HOMA(IR)), preliminarily validated against a euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp in 85 subjects. The lower limit of the top quintile of HOMA(IR) distribution (i.e., 2.77) in nonobese subjects with no metabolic disorders (n = 225) was chosen as the threshold for insulin resistance. The prevalence of insulin resistance was 65.9% in IGT subjects, 83.9% in NIDDM subjects, 53.5% in hypercholesterolemia subjects, 84.2% in hypertriglyceridemia subjects, 88.1% in subjects with low HDL cholesterol, 62.8% in hyperuricemia subjects, and 58.0% in hypertension subjects. The prevalence of insulin resistance in subjects with the combination of glucose intolerance (IGT or NIDDM), dyslipidemia (hypercholesterolemia and/or hypertriglyceridemia and/or low HDL cholesterol), hyperuricemia, and hypertension (n = 21) was 95.2%. In isolated hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, or hyperuricemia, prevalence rates of insulin resistance were not higher than that in nonobese normal subjects. An appreciable number of subjects (n = 85, 9.6% of the whole population) was insulin resistant but free of IGT, NIDDM, dyslipidemia, hyperuricemia, and hypertension. These results from a population-based study documented that 1) in hypertriglyceridemia and a low HDL cholesterol state, insulin resistance is as common as in NIDDM, whereas it is less frequent in hypercholesterolemia, hyperuricemia, and hypertension; 2) the vast majority of subjects with multiple metabolic disorders are insulin resistant; 3) in isolated hypercholesterolemia, hyperuricemia, or hypertension, insulin resistance is not more frequent than can be expected by chance alone; and 4) in the general population, insulin resistance can be found even in the absence of any major metabolic disorders.