The objective of this study was to determine whether the physiological response to an intravenous glucose challenge would be affected by genetic strain or concentrate supplementation in grazing Holstein-Friesian cows in early lactation. North American (NA; n = 30) or New Zealand (NZ; n = 30) cows were randomly allocated to 1 of 3 feeding treatments. All cows were offered a generous pasture allowance, and 4 of the 6 groups received either 3 or 6 kg of dry matter (DM)/cow per day of concentrates. During wk 5 of lactation, all cows underwent an intravenous glucose challenge. Cows of NA origin produced more milk than NZ cows, but there was no significant strain effect on milk fat or protein yield. Milk yield and the yield of individual components increased with increasing level of concentrate eaten, but there were no significant strain × diet interactions. During wk 1 to 6, mean body weight and body condition score decreased in all treatments. Average body weight was greater in NA cows, but body condition score was greater for NZ cows. There was no strain or diet effect on the length of the postpartum anovulatory interval, with cows ovulating before 40 d postpartum on average. Glucose fractional turnover rate was greater in NZ cows compared with those of NA origin and in all cows receiving 6 kg of DM concentrates, indicating a less severe insulin resistance in those treatments. Consistent with this, the time taken to dispose of half the peak glucose concentration was less when 6 kg of DM concentrate was fed, and tended to be less in NZ than in NA cows. There was no effect of genetic strain on glucose area under the curve (AUC) at 60 or 120 min, but AUC at both time points was less in cows receiving 6 kg of DM concentrates per day. Neither genetic strain nor nutrition affected basal or peak insulin concentrations, insulin increment, or insulin AUC, and there were no strain × diet interactions for any of the glucose challenge response variables measured. In conclusion, differences in milk production between NA and NZ cows in early lactation can, at least in part, be explained by the greater degree of insulin resistance in the NA cows, and this insulin resistance can be overcome by supplementing grazing cows with 6 kg of DM concentrates.