Spontaneous hypertensive-corpulent rats (SHR/N-corpulent), homozygous for the corpulent gene (cp/cp), are obese, hyperinsulinemic and exhibit abnormal glucose tolerance and thus represent a model for type II diabetes and obesity. In view of their overall insulin resistance, we examined liver insulin receptor binding and tyrosine kinase activity for corpulent rats and lean littermates fed purified diets containing 54% sucrose or starch for about 12 wk. Specific 125I-insulin binding to crude liver membranes from female corpulent rats fed either starch or sucrose was reduced to approximately 50% of that seen in lean rats (14 vs. 7%). Affinity of insulin receptors was similar in all groups, suggesting that hyperinsulinemic corpulent rats possess fewer hepatic insulin receptors than do lean rats. Using similar numbers of wheat germ agglutinin-agarose (WGA)-purified insulin receptors with similar affinities for insulin, it was found that basal and insulin-stimulated phosphorylation of the synthetic tyrosine-specific kinase substrate poly(Glu,Tyr)4:1 was similar in lean and obese rats fed sucrose or starch. It is suggested that the contribution of the liver to the insulin resistance in obese SHR/N-cp rats probably lies distal to the insulin receptor tyrosine kinase.