Insulin is a secreted peptide hormone identified in human pancreas to promote glucose utilization. Insulin has been observed to induce cell proliferation and myogenesis in C2C12 cells. The precise mechanisms underlying the proliferation of C2C12 cells induced by insulin remain unclear. In this study, we observed for the first time that 10 nM insulin treatment promotes C2C12 cell proliferation. Additionally, 50 and 100 nM insulin treatment induces C2C12 cell apoptosis. By utilizing real-time PCR and Western blotting analysis, we found that the mRNA levels of cyclinD1 and BAD are induced upon 10 and 50 nM/100 nM insulin treatment, respectively. The similar results were observed in C2C12 cells expressing GATA-6 or PPARα. Our results identify for the first time the downstream targets of insulin, cyclin D1, and BAD, elucidate a new molecular mechanism of insulin in promoting cell proliferation and apoptosis. J. Cell. Biochem. 114: 2708–2717, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.