We showed previously that 8-wk consumption of a diet containing palatinose (P, a slowly-absorbed sucrose analogue) and oleic acid (O) ameliorates but a diet containing sucrose (S) and linoleic acid (L) aggravates metabolic abnormalities in Zucker fatty (fa/fa) rats. In this study, we aimed to identify early changes in metabolism in rats induced by certain combinations of carbohydrates and fatty acids. Specifically, male Zucker fatty rats were fed an isocaloric diet containing various combinations of carbohydrates (P; S) and fatty acids (O; L). After 4 wk, no significant differences in body weight, visceral fat mass, plasma parameters (glucose, insulin, lipids, and adipokines), hepatic adiposity and gene expression, and adipose inflammation were observed between dietary groups. In contrast, pancreatic islets of palatinose-fed (PO and PL) rats were smaller and less fibrotic than sucrose-fed (SO and SL) rats. The abnormal alpha-cell distribution and sporadic staining of active caspase-3 common to islets of linoleic-acid-fed rats were not observed in oleic-acid-fed (PO and SO) rats. Accordingly, progressive beta-cell loss was seen in SL rats, but not in PO rats. These findings suggest that pancreatic islets may be initial sites that translate the effects of different combinations of dietary carbohydrates and fats into metabolic changes.