Untreated diabetic rats show impaired counterregulation against hypoglycemia. The blunted epinephrine responses are associated with reduced adrenomedullary tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) mRNA levels. Recurrent hypoglycemia further impairs epinephrine counterregulation and is also associated with reduced phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase mRNA. This study investigated the adaptations underlying impaired counterregulation in insulin-treated diabetic rats, a more clinically relevant model. We studied the effects of insulin treatment on counterregulatory hormones and adrenal catecholamine-synthesizing enzymes and adaptations after recurrent hypoglycemia. Groups included: normal; diabetic, insulin-treated for 3 wk (DI); and insulin-treated diabetic exposed to seven episodes (over 4 d) of hyperinsulinemic-hypoglycemia (DI-hypo) or hyperinsulinemic-hyperglycemia (DI-hyper). DI-hyper rats differentiated the effects of hyperinsulinemia from those of hypoglycemia. On d 5, rats from all groups were assessed for adrenal catecholamine-synthesizing enzyme levels or underwent hypoglycemic clamps to examine counterregulatory responses. Despite insulin treatment, fasting corticosterone levels remained increased, and corticosterone responses to hypoglycemia were impaired in DI rats. However, glucagon, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and ACTH counterregulatory defects were prevented. Recurrent hypoglycemia in DI-hypo rats blunted corticosterone but, surprisingly, not epinephrine responses. Norepinephrine and ACTH responses also were not impaired, whereas glucagon counterregulation was reduced due to repeated hyperinsulinemia. Insulin treatment prevented decreases in basal TH protein and increased PNMT and dopamine beta-hydroxylase protein. DI-hypo rats showed increases in TH, PNMT, and dopamine beta-hydroxylase. We conclude that insulin treatment of diabetic rats protects against most counterregulatory defects but not elevated fasting corticosterone and decreased corticosterone counterregulation. Protection against epinephrine defects, both without and with antecedent hypoglycemia, is associated with enhancement of adrenal catecholamine-synthesizing enzyme levels.