Abdominal visceral fat (AVF) is an obesity-related phenotype thought to be associated with insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus, and atherosclerosis. Significant genetic influences on both AVF and insulin levels have been reported. However, information is lacking as to whether common genetic influences on AVF and insulin levels exist. AVF was assessed by computed tomography scan, and fasting insulin was measured by RIA in 512 members of 98 sedentary Caucasian families participating in the HERITAGE Family Study. Baseline data, collected before exercise training, were used in the present investigation. A bivariate familial correlation model was applied to evaluate whether there are familial influences that are common to insulin and AVF before and after adjustment for total fat mass (FM), and to assess the overall heritability of insulin and AVF. The maximal heritability for AVF, before and after adjustment for total FM, was 42% and 50%, respectively; and for insulin, it was 21%. Interestingly, 29% of the familial influences on insulin were also common to AVF, whereas 14% of the familial influences on AVF were shared by insulin. Furthermore, after AVF was adjusted for total FM, these common familial influences were increased to 48% and 20%. Genes and/or familial nongenetic factors with pleiotropic effects seem to influence both AVF and plasma insulin levels to a certain degree. Genes involved in the regulation of lipid storage and mobilization in the abdominal fat depot are potential candidates for these genetic pleiotropic effects.