Analogues of human insulin designed to have improved absorption properties after subcutaneous injection have been prepared by recombinant DNA technology. Five rapidly absorbed analogues, being predominantly in mono- or di-meric states in the pharmaceutical preparation, and a hexameric analogue with very low solubility at neutral pH and slow absorption, were studied. Receptor binding assays with HEP-G2 cells showed overall agreement with mouse free adipocyte assays. Two analogues, B28Asp and A21Gly + B27Arg + B30Thr-NH2, had nearly the same molar in vitro potency as human insulin. Another two showed increased adipocyte potency and receptor binding, B10Asp 194% and 333% and A8His + B4His + B10Glu + B27His 575% and 511%, while B9Asp + B27Glu showed 29% and 18% and the B25Asp analogue only 0.12% and 0.05% potency. Bioassays in mice or rabbits of the analogues except B25Asp showed that they had the same in vivo potency as human insulin 1.00 IU = 6.00 nmol. Thus the variation in in vitro potency reflects the differences in receptor binding affinity. Relative to human insulin a low concentration is sufficient for a high affinity analogue to produce a given receptor complex formation and metabolic response. In conclusion, human insulin and analogues with markedly different in vitro potencies were equipotent in terms of hypoglycaemic effect. This is in agreement with the concept that elimination of insulin from blood and its subsequent degradation is mediated by insulin receptors.