The chronic influence of dietary fat composition on obesity and insulin action is not well understood. We examined the effect of amount (20% vs 60% of total calories) and type (saturated vs polyunsaturated) of fat on insulin action and body composition in mature male rats. Six months of feeding a high fat (HF) diet led to obesity and impaired insulin action (determined by a euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp), neither of which were reversed by a subsequent 6 months of feeding a low fat (LF) diet. Within HF fed rats, type of fat did not affect body composition or insulin action. Six months of feeding a low fat diet led to only a slight decline in insulin action, with no difference due to type of dietary fat. From 6–9 months, insulin action became more impaired in LF rats fed the saturated diet than in LF rats fed the polyunsaturated diet. By 12 months, all groups were obese and had a similar impairment in insulin action. The amount and type of fat in the diet did not influence the overall degree of impairment in insulin action but did affect the time course. Both feeding a high fat diet and feeding a low fat saturated diet accelerated the impairment in insulin action relative to rats fed a low fat polyunsaturated fat diet.