The effect of arachidonic acid (AA) on insulin-stimulated glucose transport by 3T3-L1 adipocytes was examined in the presence of cycloheximide. We found that AA acted synergistically with cycloheximide to suppress insulin-stimulated glucose transport, although it alone was without effect. Similar phenomena were observed while protein synthesis inhibitors other than cycloheximide were employed. Immunoblot analysis indicated that the increase in plasma membranes of the insulin-regulated glucose transporter (GLUT4) in response to insulin was decreased in cells pretreated with cycloheximide for a prolonged time, while total amount of GLUT4 was not altered. Simultaneous presence of AA with cycloheximide had no further effect on the amount of GLUT4 in either total or plasma membranes. Thus the present study suggests that AA in the presence of a protein synthesis inhibitor seems to decrease the intrinsic activity of GLUT4.