Ras associated with diabetes (Rad), a new ras-related GTPase, was recently identified by subtractive cloning as an mRNA in skeletal muscle that is overexpressed in NIDDM. To better understand its metabolic significance, we measured skeletal muscle Rad expression in well-characterized insulin sensitive (IS) and insulin resistant (IR) subjects with normal glucose tolerance and in untreated NIDDM patients. We found no differences in expression of Rad mRNA levels among IS, IR, and NIDDM groups using a ribonuclease protection assay (0.22 ± 0.06, 0.13 ± 0.01, and 0.10 ± 0.02 relative units, respectively; NS) and no differences in Rad protein expression using a specific anti-peptide Rad antibody (1.05 ± 0.18, 1.14 ± 0.08, and 1.08 ± 0.21 units/mg protein, respectively; NS). However, Rad protein levels were positively correlated with BMI (r = 0.43, P = 0.03) and percentage body fat (r = 0.55, P < 0.005), two independent measures of obesity, and negatively correlated with resting metabolic rate (r = 0.49, P = 0.01). In multiple regression analyses, percentage body fat and resting metabolic rate independently accounted for 30 and 10% of individual variability in muscle Rad protein expression. In conclusion, Rad expression in skeletal muscle is not altered as a function of insulin resistance or NIDDM in humans. However, these data, for the first time, implicate a role for Rad in regulating body composition and energy expenditure and provide a framework for studies designed to elucidate Rad's cellular functions.