The aim of this study was to explore interactions between coping style and diet as risk factors for developing insulin resistance in rats. We hypothesized that rats characterized by a passive coping strategy are more susceptible for developing insulin resistance and visceral obesity than proactively coping rats, particularly on a high (45%) fat diet. This hypothesis was tested by comparing 1) insulin and glucose responses to an intravenous glucose tolerance test (IVGTT), and 2) body fat distribution, in two rat models for passive and proactive coping styles. We found that the most extremely passive rats are characterized by elevated insulin levels during a IVGTT, even on chow. Moderately passive rats display normal insulin responses under chow conditions, but develop insulin resistance on a high fat diet. Proactive rats are remarkably resistant to insulin resistance and visceral obesity, even when overfeeding on a high fat diet. Carcass analysis revealed that passive rats are characterized by increased epididymal fat deposition, which is in line with the observed differences in insulin resistance. We conclude that a passive personality is prone to develop insulin resistance and visceral obesity on a palatable fat diet and a proactive personality might be protected against the development of diet-induced insulin resistance. (C) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.