1. The effects of varying the plasma insulin concentration by infusion while maintaining euglycaemia by infusion of glucose on nutrient arterio-venous differences across the hind-limb and mammary gland in lactating and non-lactating sheep were investigated. 2. Insulin infusion increased the glucose arterio-venous difference across the hind-limb; this effect of insulin was decreased by lactation, suggesting that lactation induces insulin resistance in skeletal muscle. 3. Lactation increased but insulin infusion decreased the plasma concentrations of acetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate and non-esterified fatty acids. 4. Insulin infusion decreased the arterio-venous differences of acetate and hydroxybutyrate across the hind-limb; this effect of insulin is probably indirect, resulting from the decrease in plasma concentrations of these metabolites. 5. Infusion of insulin had no effect on the glucose arterio-venous difference across the mammary gland, but did decrease the oxygen arterio-venous difference. 6. The results suggest that lactation results in insulin resistance in skeletal muscle, at least with respect to glucose utilization; this should facilitate the preferential utilization of glucose by the mammary gland.

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