The recent technological advances in high-throughput gene expression analysis allow the simultaneous investigation of thousands of genes. These technologies represent promising tools for the identification of new drug targets and considerable progress has been achieved in cancer research where microarray data provide a basis to design new drugs and to predict adverse reactions and the efficacy of chemotherapy. The metabolic syndrome represents a cluster of disorders including high blood pressure, insulin resistance/type 2 diabetes mellitus, visceral obesity and dyslipidaemia with fatty liver disease being a common associated complication. Highthroughput gene expression analyses using GeneChips, microarrays and serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) have been applied to study global gene expression in insulin resistance/type 2 diabetes mellitus. Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a multifactorial and polygenic disease by which several organs are affected. Therefore, the identification of both, disease causing and therapeutically relevant target genes is an ambitious challenge. In the present review we focus on genomic approaches that used biopsies from human skeletal muscle, liver and adipose tissue, the main organs affected by insulin resistance. Members of the PPARγ coactivator-1 (PGC-1) family of transcriptional coactivators are decreased in skeletal muscle in insulin resistance accounting for the reduced expression of genes involved in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. Hepatic steatosis is also linked to alterations in mitochondrial phosphorylation and oxidative metabolism. An up regulation of pro-inflammatory genes can be detected in early stages of fatty liver disease without histological signs of inflammation. Impaired adipogenesis, intra-adipose accumulation of macrophages and a sustained release of inflammatory and acute phase proteins are characteristic features of adipose tissue in obesity and may aggravate systemic insulin resistance.