Insulin analogues have been developed in an attempt to achieve a more physiological replacement of insulin and thereby a better glycaemic control. However, structural modification of the insulin molecule may result in altered binding affinities and activities to the IGF1 receptor (IGF1R). As a consequence, insulin analogues may theoretically have an increased mitogenic action compared to human insulin. In view of the lifelong exposure and large patient populations involved, insulin analogues with an increased mitogenic effect in comparison to human insulin may potentially constitute a major health problem, since these analogues may possibly induce the growth of pre-existing neoplasms. This hypothesis has been evaluated extensively in vitro and also in vivo by using animal models. In vitro, all at present commercially available insulin analogues have lower affinities for the insulin receptor (IR). Although it has been suggested that especially insulin analogues with an increased affinity for the IGF1R (such as insulin glargine) are more mitogenic when tested in vitro in cells expressing a high proportion of IGF1R, the question remains whether this has any clinical consequences. At present, there are several uncertainties which make it very difficult to answer this question decisively. In addition, recent data suggest that insulin (or insulin analogues)-mediated stimulation of IRs may play a key role in the progression of human cancer. More detailed information is required to elucidate the exact mechanisms as to how insulin analogues may activate the IR and IGF1R and how this activation may be linked to mitogenesis.