The human insular cortex is a heterogeneous brain structure which plays an integrative role in guiding behavior. The cytoarchitectonic organization of the human insula has been investigated over the last century using postmortem brains but there has been little progress in noninvasive in vivo mapping of its microstructure and large-scale functional circuitry. Quantitative modeling of multi-shell diffusion MRI data from 413 participants revealed that human insula microstructure differs significantly across subdivisions that serve distinct cognitive and affective functions. Insular microstructural organization was mirrored in its functionally interconnected circuits with the anterior cingulate cortex that anchors the salience network, a system important for adaptive switching of cognitive control systems. Furthermore, insular microstructural features, confirmed in Macaca mulatta, were linked to behavior and predicted individual differences in cognitive control ability. Our findings open new possibilities for probing psychiatric and neurological disorders impacted by insular cortex dysfunction, including autism, schizophrenia, and fronto-temporal dementia.