Aims Steroid diabetes mellitus (SDM) is a metabolic syndrome caused by an increase in glucocorticoids, and its pathogenesis is unclear. 18F-FDG PET/CT can reflect the glucose metabolism of tissues and organs under living conditions. Here, PET/CT imaging of SDM and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) rats was used to visualize changes in glucose metabolism in the main glucose metabolizing organs and investigate the pathogenesis of SDM. Methods SDM and T2DM rat models were established. During this time, PET/CT imaging was used to measure the %ID/g value of skeletal muscle and liver to evaluate glucose uptake. The pancreatic, skeletal muscle and liver were analyzed by immunohistochemistry. Results SDM rats showed increased fasting blood glucose and insulin levels, hyperplasia of islet α and β cells, increased FDG uptake in skeletal muscle accompanied by an up-regulation of PI3Kp85α, IRS-1, and GLUT4, no significant changes in liver uptake, and that glycogen storage in the liver and skeletal muscle increased. T2DM rats showed atrophy of pancreatic islet β cells and decreased insulin levels, significantly reduced FDG uptake and glycogen storage in skeletal muscle and liver. Conclusions The pathogenesis of SDM is different from that of T2DM. The increased glucose metabolism of skeletal muscle may be related to the increased compensatory secretion of insulin. Glucocorticoids promote the proliferation of islet α cells and cause an increase in gluconeogenesis in the liver, which may cause increased blood glucose.