Troglitazone is an insulin sensitizer which affects a number of target tissues. It is believed to exert these effects primarily by binding to and activating the y-isoform of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPARgamma), which in turn regulates the expression of specific genes. However, in a number of target organs, such as liver, the levels of PPARgamma are low and other isoforms predominate. In the present study, we examined whether troglitazone induces the expression of PPARgamma, thereby sensitizing cells for the action of this drug. Treatment of isolated rat hepatocytes with troglitazone induced both the mRNA and protein levels of PPARgamma in a dose-dependent fashion, with maximal levels of induction being three- to fourfold. This induction was also observed using the 15-deoxy-delta12,14-prostaglandin J2, a known natural ligand for PPARgamma, whereas ligands specific for PPARalpha were without effect. The induction of PPARgamma expression by troglitazone was also observed in livers from rats fed a diet containing troglitazone. Troglitazone had no effect on the expression of the alpha- or beta-isoforms of PPAR, the more predominant liver isoforms. These results indicate that troglitazone produces a reprogramming of PPAR isoform content in liver, which may in part underlie the mechanism whereby troglitazone sensitizes the liver to the action of insulin and/or ameliorates hyperglycemia.