Mass, morphology, and metabolism of total adipose tissue and its subcutaneous, visceral, and retroperitoneal subcompartments were examined in 16 men with a wide variation of total body fat. Computerized tomography (CT) scans showed that the intraabdominal fat mass comprised approximately 20% of total fat mass. Visceral and retroperitoneal fat masses were approximately 80% and 20% of total intraabdominal fat mass, respectively. Enlargement of intraabdominal fat depots was due to a parallel adipocyte enlargement only. Direct significant correlations were found between these adipose tissue masses and blood glucose and plasma insulin levels, blood pressure, and liver function tests, while glucose disposal rate during euglycemic glucose clamp measurements at submaximal insulin concentrations (GDR), plasma testosterone, and sex hormone-binding globulin concentrations correlated negatively. The correlations for glucose, insulin, and GDR were strongest with visceral fat mass. Adipose tissue lipid uptake, measured after oral administration of labeled oleic acid in triglyceride, was approximately 50% higher in omental than in subcutaneous adipose tissues. Adipocytes from omental fat also showed a higher lipolytic sensitivity and responsiveness to catecholamines. Furthermore, these adipocytes were less sensitive to the antilipolytic effects of insulin. Both lipid uptake and lipolytic sensitivity and responsiveness showed strong correlations (r = 0.8 to 0.9) to blood glucose and plasma insulin concentrations and also to the GDR (negative), while no such correlations were found with lipid uptake in subcutaneous or retroperitoneal abdominal adipose tissues. Taken together, these results suggest a higher turnover of lipids in visceral than in the other fat depots, which is closely correlated to systemic insulin resistance and glucose metabolism in men.