The recently discovered adipocytokine visfatin has insulin-like properties. It lowers blood glucose and improves insulin sensitivity; however, clinical data on visfatin are limited. To evaluate the role of visfatin in GDM (gestational diabetes mellitus), we determined visfatin levels in women with GDM and in healthy pregnant controls. Furthermore, visfatin concentrations were investigated longitudinally during pregnancy and after delivery in a subgroup of women with GDM. Blood for measurement of visfatin and metabolic parameters was obtained from 64 women with GDM [median week of gestation, 34 (interquartile range, 27-36) weeks] and 30 healthy pregnant controls [median week of gestation, 34 (interquartile range, 28-36) weeks]. In a subgroup of 24 women with GDM, visfatin, leptin and metabolic parameters were investigated twice during pregnancy (28-30 and 38-40 weeks of gestation) and 2 weeks after delivery. In the cross-sectional analysis, median visfatin levels were significantly elevated in women with GDM [64.0 (interquartile range, 50.9-74.8) ng/ml] compared with controls [46.0 (interquartile range, 36.9-54.6) ng/ml; P<0.0001]. In women with GDM, visfatin correlated with week of gestation at the time of blood draw (R=0.35, P=0.005). No association with fasting glucose, insulin, homoeostasis model assessment-insulin resistance or body mass index was observed. According to the longitudinal analysis, visfatin increased during pregnancy (P=0.002) and rose further after delivery (P=0.014), whereas leptin and insulin levels decreased after parturition (both P<0.001). In conclusion, visfatin is elevated in women with GDM and increases during the course of pregnancy as well as after delivery. Furthermore, visfatin shows no association with insulin and leptin in women with GDM.