Recent evidence suggests that cells with the properties of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) can be derived from adult peripheral tissues, including adipose tissue, muscle and dermis. We isolated hMSCs from the stromal-vascular portion of subcutaneous adipose tissue from seven adult subjects. These cells could be readily differentiated into cells of the chondrocyte, osteocyte and adipocyte lineage demonstrating their multipotency. We studied the functional properties of hMSCs-derived adipocytes and compared them with adipocytes differentiated from hMSCs obtained from bone marrow (BM-hMSC). The two cell types displayed similar lipolytic capacity upon stimulation with catecholamines, including a pronounced antilipolytic effect mediated through alpha2A-adrenoceptors, a typical trait in human but not rodent fat cells. Furthermore, both cell types secreted the fat cell-specific factors leptin and adiponectin in comparable amounts per time unit. The fat tissue-derived hMSCs retained their differentiation capacity up to at least fifteen passages. We conclude that hMSCs derived from adult human adipose tissue can be differentiated into fully functional adipocytes with a similar, if not identical, phenotype as that observed in cells derived from BM-hMSCs. Human adipose-tissue-derived MSCs could therefore constitute an efficient and easily obtainable renewable cellular source for studies of adipocyte biology.