IL-6 has emerged as an important cytokine upregulated in states of insulin resistance such as type 2 diabetes. We evaluated the chronic effect of IL-6 on insulin signaling in 3T3-F442A and 3T3-L1 adipocytes. First, cells responded to a chronic treatment with IL-6 by initiating an autoactivation process that increased IL-6 secretion. Second, IL-6-treated adipocytes showed a decreased protein expression of IR-beta subunit and IRS-1 but also an inhibition of the insulin-induced activation of IR-beta, Akt/PKB, and ERK1/2. Moreover, IL-6 suppressed the insulin-induced lipogenesis and glucose transport consistent with a diminished expression of GLUT4. IL-6-treated adipocytes failed to maintain their adipocyte phenotype as shown by the downregulation of the adipogenic markers FAS, GAPDH, aP2, PPAR-gamma, and C/EBP-alpha. IL-6 also induced the expression of SOCS-3, a potential inhibitor of insulin signaling. Finally, the effects of IL-6 could be prevented by rosiglitazone, an insulin-sensitizing agent. Thus, IL-6 may play an important role in the set-up of insulin resistance in adipose cell.