Genistein, a natural food compound mainly present in soybeans, is considered a potent antioxidant and to improve glucose homeostasis. However, its mechanism of action remains poorly understood. Here, we analyzed whether genistein could antagonize the progression of the hyperinsulinemic normoglycemic state (pre-diabetes) toward full-blown T2DM in Zucker Diabetic Fatty (ZDF) rats by decreasing mitochondrial oxidative stress and improving skeletal muscle oxidative capacity. Rats were assigned to three groups: (1) lean control (CNTL), (2) fa/fa CNTL, and (3) fa/fa genistein (GEN). GEN animals were subjected to a 0.02% (w/w) genistein-enriched diet for 8 weeks, whereas CNTL rats received a standard diet. We show that genistein did not affect the overall response to a glucose challenge in ZDF rats. In fact, genistein may exacerbate glucose intolerance as fasting glucose levels were significantly higher in fa/fa GEN (17.6 +/- 0.7 mM) compared with fa/fa CNTL animals (14.9 +/- 1.4 mM). Oxidative stress, established by electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy, carbonylated protein content and UCP3 levels, remained unchanged upon dietary genistein supplementation. Furthermore, respirometry measurements revealed no effects of genistein on mitochondrial function. In conclusion, dietary genistein supplementation did not improve glucose homeostasis, alleviate oxidative stress, or augment skeletal muscle metabolism in ZDF rats.