Brush-border membranes were isolated from the mucosal surface of rabbit proximal colon epithelial cells by a procedure involving Ca2+ precipitation. Ouabain-insensitive K+-phosphatase, a marker enzyme for the colon brush-border membrane, was enriched 17-fold by this technique, while no enrichment was observed in the activity of ouabain-sensitive K+-phosphatase, a marker for the basal-lateral membrane. Insulin binding studies revealed a dose-dependent inhibition of 125I-insulin binding with porcine insulin and approximately 4 x 10-9 M insulin was required to produce 50% inhibition of 125I-insulin binding, while desoctapeptide insulin, insulin-like growth factor I, and A chain of insulin had less effect on 125I-insulin binding. This is the first demonstration of high-affinity insulin binding sites on the brush-border membrane of mammalian colon epithelial cells. Subsequent studies with the cross-linking agent disuccinimidyl suberate confirmed the presence of insulin binding sites in these membranes and autoradiography of polyacrylamide gels revealed that the binding subunit of the colon epithelial cell brush-border insulin receptor is similar in size to that observed in hepatic tissue. Interestingly, the insulin binding capacity/mg of protein of this preparation is high, suggesting that large numbers of insulin receptors are present in vivo on the mucosal surface of colon epithelial cells. The potential physiological role of these previously unrecognized insulin receptors is discussed.