Phase III trials of the anti-insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF1R) antibody figitumumab in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients have been discontinued owing to lack of survival benefit. We investigated whether inhibition of the highly homologous insulin receptor (IR) in addition to the IGF1R would be more effective than inhibition of the IGF1R alone at preventing the proliferation of NSCLC cells. Signalling through IGF1R and IR in the NSCLC cell lines A549 and Hcc193 was stimulated by a combination of IGF1, IGF2 and insulin. It was inhibited by antibodies that block ligand binding, αIR3 (IGF1R) and IR47-9 (IR), and by the ATP-competitive small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors AZ12253801 and NVPAWD742 which inhibit both IGF1R and IR tyrosine kinases. The effect of inhibitors was determined by an anchorage-independent proliferation assay and by analysis of Akt phosphorylation. In Hcc193 cells the reduction in cell proliferation and Akt phosphorylation due to anti-IGF1R antibody was enhanced by antibody-mediated inhibition of the IR whereas in A549 cells, with a relatively low IR:IGF1R expression ratio, it was not. In each cell line proliferation and Akt phosphorylation were more effectively inhibited by AZ12253801 and NVPAWD742 than by combined αIR3 and IR47-9. When the IGF1R alone is inhibited, unencumbered signalling through the IR can contribute to continued NSCLC cell proliferation. We conclude that small molecule inhibitors targeting both the IR and IGF1R more effectively reduce NSCLC cell proliferation in a manner independent of the IR:IGF1R expression ratio, providing a therapeutic rationale for the treatment of this disease.