Adipose tissue synthesizes lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which helps in the postprandial clearance of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins. Because visceral adipose tissue is generally accepted as the most important metabolic tissue, we sought to verify whether there are regional differences in the expression of LPL. Samples of adipose tissue from subcutaneous and omental fat deposits were obtained from 20 adults undergoing surgery. Total adipose tissue LPL activity was measured using a conventional radioactive substrate assay. Steady-state levels of LPL mRNA were assessed using the very sensitive RNase protection assay technique with 18S ribosomal RNA as an internal control. A correlation was demonstrated between LPL activity levels in subcutaneous and omental tissue (r = .72; P < .01) and between mRNA levels at both sites (r = .47, P = .04). LPL mRNA levels were significantly lower in omental compared with subcutaneous depots (omental v subcutaneous, 1.7 +/- 0.7 v 2.1 +/- 0.7 arbitrary units [AU] over 18S, P < .05). In paired comparisons, LPL mRNA levels in omental adipose tissue were, on average, 20% +/- 7% (range, -57% to +9.0%) lower than the levels measured in subcutaneous adipose tissue (P < .05). In conclusion, these data suggest that subcutaneous adipose tissue is a reliable surrogate of the expression (activity and mRNA) of LPL in omental adipose tissue, even though omental depots express proportionally less LPL than subcutaneous depots.