BACKGROUND: DHEA-S(dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate) is the most abundantly produced adrenal steroid, but its physiological role has not been established yet. Increasing evidence suggests that insulin may act to lower serum DHEA-S levels in human. Some epidemiological studies report that serum DHEA, DHEA-S levels are reduced in pathological states characterized by insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia such as obesity, hypertension, and untreated type 2 diabetes mellitus. This study was undertaken to investigate the relationship between DHEA, DHEA-S and insulin resistance parameters, such as BMI, blood pressure, fasting blood glucose (FBG), basal insulin level and lipid profile in Korean subjects. METHODS: The subjects were 369 Koreans(223 men, 146 women, age range: 15~75 year old) who visited the Anam Hospital for health check-up. In the morning, height, weight and blood pressure were measured and blood samples were collected for determinations of FBG, insulin, lipid profile, DHEA-S and DHEA. RESULTS: There was an inverse correlation between advancing age and serum DHEA, DHEA-S concentrations in all subjects. Although there was no significant correlation between advancing age and basal insulin levels or G/1(glucose/insulin) ratio, there were significant correlations between advancing age and insulin resistance parameters, such as BMI, diastolic BP, systolic BP, total cholesterol, triglyceride, LDL-cholesterol and FBG. In men under 50 years, DHEA was positively correlated with total cholesteral and HDL-cholesterol and negatively correlated with basal insulin level(p<0.05) and G/I ratio(p<0.001), But, in men over 50 years and in women, the correlation between DHEA, DHEA-S and other parameters was not observed. CONCLUSION: No consistent associations of DHEA, DHEA-S with various parameters of insulin resistance were observed in Koreans. However, in men under 50 years of age, DHEA and DHEA-S were associated with parameters of insulin resistance syndrome, suggesting that DHEA and DHEA-S may be related with insulin resistance only in this group.