The effects of a high fat diet on the development of diabetes mellitus, insulin resistance and secretion have been widely investigated. We investigated the effects of a high fat diet on the pancreas and skeletal muscle of normal rats to explore diet-induced insulin resistance mechanisms. Forty-four male Wistar rats were divided into six groups: a control group fed standard chow, a group fed a 45% fat diet and a group fed a 60% fat diet for 3 weeks to measure acute effects; an additional three groups were fed the same diet regimens for 8 weeks to measure chronic effects. The morphological effects of the two high fat diets were examined by light microscopy. Insulin in pancreatic islets was detected using immunohistochemistry. The homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance index and insulin staining intensity in islets increased significantly with acute administration of high fat diets, whereas staining intensity decreased with chronic administration of the 45% fat diet. Islet areas increased significantly with chronic administration. High fat diet administration led to islet degeneration, interlobular adipocyte accumulation and vacuolization in the pancreatic tissue, as well as degeneration and lipid droplet accumulation in the skeletal muscle tissue. Vacuolization in the pancreas and lipid droplets in skeletal muscle tissue increased significantly with chronic high fat diet administration. We suggest that the glucolipotoxic effects of high fat diet administration depend on the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fatty acid content in the diet and to the total fat content of the diet.