The current study retrospectively examined the association between insulin resistance and plasma triglycerides (TG) in a group of subjects with normal glucose tolerance. Among 1,434 subjects consecutively undergoing a standard oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) between 1993 and 1998, 567 (age, 15 to 78 years) were classified as having a normal glucose tolerance according to the 1999 World Health Organization (WHO) criteria and were selected for the study. Serum insulin was measured by radioimmunoassay (INSI-CTK, Dia Sorin, Saluggia, Italy). Intra-assay and interassay coefficients of variation for the method were less than 4% and less than 8.5%, respectively. Insulin resistance was calculated by a homeostasis model assessment (HOMA(IR) = fasting serum insulin [mU/mL] x fasting blood glucose [mmol/L]/22.5). A very significant correlation was found between HOMA(IR) and plasma TG (r = 0.27, P < 1.02E(-10)). Multiple regression analyses confirmed plasma TG as independent variables explicative of HOMA(IR). When subjects were evaluated according to tertiles of TG, those in the upper two tertiles were older (P <.001) and presented higher body mass index (BMI) values (P <.0001) in comparison to subjects in the lower tertile. A positive trend (analysis of variance [ANOVA]) was found in regard to systolic (P <.05) and diastolic blood pressure (P <.0001), fasting blood glucose (P <.01), fasting serum insulin (P <.0001), and total cholesterol (P <.0001), while a negative trend was found in regard to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (P <.0001). Insulin resistance, calculated as HOMA(IR), was higher in the upper two tertiles of TG in comparison to the lower tertile (P <.001 and P <.0001, respectively), with a statistically significant trend for the entire group (first tertile, 1.85 +/- 0.94; second tertile, 2.28 +/- 1.10; third tertile, 2.65 +/- 1.71; ANOVA: P <.0001). In conclusion, this study shows an association between high levels of circulating TG and insulin resistance in patients with normal glucose tolerance seen in an atherosclerosis prevention clinic. This association is also present at levels of plasma TG considered to be normal and is associated with a cluster of cardiovascular risk factors.