The effect of exercise on in vivo insulin sensitivity was examined in lean and obese Zucker rats. Rats (6 to 7 weeks of age) were swum two hours per day or kept sedentary for 8 weeks. Exercise decreased body weight gain as well as percent of fat in both genotypes. Sedentary obese rats had 62% higher gastrocnemius citrate synthase activity per gram of muscle than did lean rats. Exercise increased activity of this oxidative enzyme similarly in both genotypes. Compared to lean rats, obese rats had higher plasma-insulin levels and were less sensitive to insulin during an insulin tolerance test. Although training had no effect on plasma-insulin levels, exercise trained obese rats showed a greater drop in plasma glucose relative to sedentary controls following intravenous injection of three concentrations of insulin. It was concluded that moderate exercise training improved the insulin sensitivity of the obese Zucker rat.