In an attempt to probe the effect of beta-endorphin on insulin resistance, we used Wistar rats that were fed fructose-rich chow to induce insulin resistance. Insulin action on glucose disposal rate (GDR) was measured using the hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp technique, in which glucose (variable), insulin (40 mU/kg/min), and beta-endorphin (6 ng/kg/min) or vehicle were initiated simultaneously and continued for 120 min. A marked reduction in insulin-stimulated GDR was observed in fructose-fed rats compared to normal control rats. Infusion of beta-endorphin reversed the value of GDR, which was inhibited by naloxone and naloxonazine each at doses sufficient to block opioid mu-receptors. Opioid mu-receptors may therefore be activated by beta-endorphin to improve insulin resistance. Next, soleus muscle was isolated to investigate the effect of beta-endorphin on insulin signals. Insulin resistance in rats induced by excess fructose was associated with the impaired insulin receptor (IR), tyrosine autophosphorylation, and insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-1 protein content in addition to the significant decrease in IRS-1 tyrosine phosphorylation in soleus muscle. This impaired glucose transportation was also due to signaling defects that included an attenuated p85 regulatory subunit of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-kinase) and Akt serine phosphorylation. However, IR protein levels were not markedly changed in rats with insulin resistance. beta-endorphin infusion reversed the fructose-induced decrement in the insulin-signaling cascade with increased GDR. Apart from IR protein levels, infusion of beta-endorphin reversed the decrease in protein expression for the IRS-1, p85 regulatory subunit of PI3-kinase, and Akt serine phosphorylation in soleus muscle in fructose-fed rats. The decrease in insulin-stimulated protein expression of glucose transporter subtype 4 (GLUT 4) in fructose-fed rats returned to near-normal levels after beta-endorphin infusion. Infusion of beta-endorphin may improve insulin resistance by modulating the insulin-signaling pathway to reverse insulin responsiveness.