Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) are transcription factors that play an important role in the regulation of genes involved in lipid utilization and storage, lipoprotein metabolism, adipocyte differentiation, and insulin action. The three isoforms of the PPAR family, i.e. alpha, delta, and gamma, have distinct tissue distribution patterns. PPAR-alpha is predominantly present in the liver, and PPAR-gamma in adipose tissue, whereas PPAR-delta is ubiquitously expressed. A recent study reported increased PPAR-gamma messenger RNA (mRNA) expression in the liver in ob/ob mice; however, it is not known whether increased PPAR-gamma expression in the liver has any functional consequences. The expression of PPAR-alpha and -delta in the liver in obesity has not been determined. We have now examined the mRNA levels of PPAR-alpha, -delta, and -gamma in three murine models of obesity, namely, ob/ob (leptin-deficient), db/db (leptin-receptor deficient), and serotonin 5-HT2c receptor (5-HT2cR) mutant mice. 5-HT2cR mutant mice develop a late-onset obesity that is associated with higher plasma leptin levels. Our results show that PPAR-alpha mRNA levels in the liver are increased by 2- to 3-fold in all three obese models, whereas hepatic PPAR-gamma mRNA levels are increased by 7- to 9-fold in ob/ob and db/db mice and by 2-fold in obese 5-HT2cR mutant mice. PPAR-delta mRNA expression is not altered in ob/ob or db/db mice. To determine whether increased PPAR-gamma expression in the liver has any functional consequences, we examined the effect of troglitazone treatment on the hepatic mRNA levels of several PPAR-gamma-responsive adipose tissue-specific genes that have either no detectable or very low basal expression in the liver. The treatment of lean control mice with troglitazone significantly increased the expression of adipocyte fatty acid-binding protein (aP2) and fatty acid translocase (FAT/CD36) in the liver. This troglitazone-induced increase in the expression of aP2 and FAT/CD36 was markedly enhanced in the liver in ob/ob mice. Troglitazone also induced a pronounced increase in the expression of uncoupling protein-2 in the liver in ob/ob mice. In contrast to the liver, troglitazone did not increase the expression of aP2, FAT/CD36, and uncoupling protein-2 in adipose tissue in lean or ob/ob mice. Taken together, our results suggest that the effects of PPAR-gamma activators on lipid metabolism and energy homeostasis in obesity and type 2 diabetes may be partly mediated through their effects on PPAR-gamma in the liver.