Phytochemicals such as soy isoflavone genistein have been reported to possess therapeutic effects for obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. In the present study, the molecular basis of selective phytochemicals with emphasis on their ability to control intracellular signaling cascades of AMP-activated kinase (AMPK) responsible for the inhibition of adipogenesis was investigated. Recently, the evolutionarily conserved serine/threonine kinase, AMPK, emerges as a possible target molecule of anti-obesity. Hypothalamic AMPK was found to integrate nutritional and hormonal signals modulating feeding behavior and energy expenditure. We have investigated the effects of genistein, EGCG, and capsaicin on adipocyte differentiation in relation to AMPK activation in 3T3-L1 cells. Genistein (20-200muM) significantly inhibited the process of adipocyte differentiation and led to apoptosis of mature adipocytes. Genistein, EGCG, and capsaicin stimulated the intracellular ROS release, which activated AMPK rapidly. We suggest that AMPK is a novel and critical component of both inhibition of adipocyte differentiation and apoptosis of mature adipocytes by genistein or EGCG or capsaicin further implying AMPK as a prime target of obesity control.