Beta-blockade results in rapid glucose clearance and premature fatigue during exercise. To investigate the cause of this increased glucose clearance, we studied the acute effects of propranolol on insulin-stimulated muscle glucose uptake during contraction in the presence of epinephrine with an isolated rat muscle preparation. Glucose uptake increased in both fast- (epitrochlearis) and slow-twitch (soleus) muscle during insulin or contraction stimulation. In the presence of 24 nM epinephrine, glucose uptake during contraction was completely suppressed when insulin was present. This suppression of glucose uptake by epinephrine was accompanied by a decrease in insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-1-phosphatidylinositol 3 (PI3)-kinase activity. Propranolol had no direct effect on insulin-stimulated glucose uptake during contraction. However, epinephrine was ineffective in attenuating insulin-stimulated glucose uptake during contraction in the presence of propranolol. This ineffectiveness of epinephrine to suppress insulin-stimulated glucose uptake during contraction occurred in conjunction with its inability to completely suppress IRS-1-PI3-kinase activity. Results of this study indicate that the effectiveness of epinephrine to inhibit insulin-stimulated glucose uptake during contraction is severely diminished in muscle exposed to propranolol. Thus the increase in glucose clearance and premature fatigue associated with beta-blockade could result from the inability of epinephrine to attenuate insulin-stimulated muscle glucose uptake.