The mechanisms by which elevated levels of free fatty acids cause insulin resistance are not well understood, but there is a strong correlation between insulin resistance and intramyocellular lipid accumulation in skeletal muscle. In addition, accumulating evidence suggests a link between inflammation and type 2 diabetes. The aim of this work was to study whether the exposure of skeletal muscle cells to palmitate affected peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) beta/delta activity. Here, we report that exposure of C2C12 skeletal muscle cells to 0.75 mM palmitate reduced (74%, P<0.01) the mRNA levels of the PPARbeta/delta-target gene pyruvatedehydrogenase kinase 4 (PDK-4), which is involved in fatty acid utilization. This reduction was not observed in the presence of the PPARbeta/delta agonist L-165041. This drug prevented palmitate-induced nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB activation. Increased NF-kappaB activity after palmitate exposure was associated with enhanced protein-protein interaction between PPARbeta/delta and p65. Interestingly, treatment with the PPARbeta/delta agonist L-165041 completely abolished this interaction. These results indicate that palmitate may reduce fatty acid utilization in skeletal muscle cells by reducing PPARbeta/delta signaling through increased NF-kappaB activity.