Ad libitum access to a high-fat (HF) diet produces a wide range of weight gain in rats. Rats most susceptible to weight gain on such a diet (obesity prone; OP) are more insulin resistant after 4-5 wk of diet exposure than are those most resistant (obesity resistant; OR) to weight gain. To investigate whether skeletal muscle glucose metabolism contributes to insulin resistance in this model, insulin-stimulated glucose metabolism was assessed in the perfused hindquarter of rats exposed to either a low-fat (LF, n = 6) or HF diet for 5 wk. Delineation of OP (n = 6) and OR (n = 6) rats was based on body weight gain. OP rats gained 60% more body weight while eating only 10% more energy than OR rats. Single-pass perfusions were carried out for 2 h in the presence of glucose, insulin, and [U-14C]glucose. Insulin-stimulated glucose uptake (mumol.100 g-1.min-1) was 14.2 +/- 0.9 in LF, 11.1 +/- 0.8 in OR, and 6.2 +/- 0.6 in OP. Glucose oxidation (mumol.100 g-1.min-1) was 1.7 +/- 0.3 and 1.2 +/- 0.3 in LF and OR, respectively, but was 0.2 +/- 0.1 in OP. Net glycogen synthesis was significantly reduced in OP compared with OR and LF despite similar glycogen synthase I activity. Muscle triglyceride concentration was not significantly different in OR and OP rats. These results demonstrate significant defects in skeletal muscle glucose uptake and disposal in rats most susceptible to HF diet-induced obesity. Clearly, the heterogeneous response to a HF diet involves not only body weight gain but also skeletal muscle fuel metabolism.