To determine the relationship between hypoglycemic activity and body weight gain induced by insulin sensitizers, we compared the effects of thiazolidinedione analogs (troglitazone and pioglitazone) and the oxadiazolidinedione analog (Z)-1,4-bis4[(3,5-dioxo-1,2,4-oxadiazolidin-2-yl)methyl]phen oxy¿but-2-ene (YM440) in diabetic db/db mice. Oral treatment with YM440(100 mg/kg) for 28 days decreased the blood glucose concentration (control v YM440, 418 +/- 12 v243 +/- 44 mg/dL). The hypoglycemic activity of this agent was comparable to that of troglitazone (300 mg/kg) and pioglitazone (100 mg/kg). There were no changes in food intake among the groups. Troglitazone and pioglitazone, but not YM440, significantly increased body weight gain during treatment (control, 7.2 +/- 0.5 g; YM440, 7.5 +/- 0.8 g; troglitazone, 10.9 +/- 0.8 g; and pioglitazone, 14.5 +/- 1.1 g). To further assess whether the increase in body weight by troglitazone or pioglitazone was due to adipogenesis, the weight of intraabdominal fat tissue (epididymal, retroperitoneal, and perirenal) was determined. There were no differences in the total weight of visceral fat between the control and YM440 treatment (3.53 +/- 0.23 and 3.60 +/- 0.16 g). In contrast, troglitazone and pioglitazone significantly increased the fat weight (4.31 +/- 0.13 and 4.66 +/- 0.19 g). Thiazolidinediones are known as ligands for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma), a nuclear receptor responsible for adipogenesis. Troglitazone and pioglitazone activated PPARgamma and increased triglyceride accumulation and mRNA expression of fatty acid-binding protein (FABP) in 3T3-L1 cells. However, YM440 had no effect on these indices for adipocyte differentiation. These results suggest that the mechanism is different for the hypoglycemic action of YM440 versus the thiazolidinediones. YM440 ameliorates hyperglycemia without changing PPARgamma activity, adipocyte differentiation, or fat weight. Thus, YM440 could be a useful hypoglycemic agent for the treatment of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) without affecting body weight.