The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of acute resistance exercise (RE) on lipolysis within adipose tissue and subsequent substrate oxidation to better understand how RE may contribute to improvements in body composition. Lipolysis and blood flow were measured in abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue via microdialysis before, during, and for 5 h following whole body RE as well as on a nonexercise control day (C) in eight young (24 +/- 0.7 yr), active (>3 RE session/wk for at least 2 yr) male participants. Fat oxidation was measured immediately before and after RE via indirect calorimetry for 45 min. Dialysate glycerol concentration (an index of lipolysis) was higher during (RE: 200.4 +/- 38.6 vs. C: 112.4 +/- 13.1 micromol/l, 78% difference; P = 0.02) and immediately following RE (RE: 184 +/- 41 vs. C: 105 + 14.6 micromol/l, 75% difference; P = 0.03) compared with the same time period on the C day. Energy expenditure was elevated in the 45 min after RE compared with the same time period on the C day (RE: 104.4 +/- 6.0 vs. C: 94.5 +/- 4.0 kcal/h, 10.5% difference; P = 0.03). Respiratory exchange ratio was lower (RE: 0.71 +/- 0.004 vs. C: 0.85 +/- .03, 16.5% difference; P = 0.004) and fat oxidation was higher (RE: 10.2 +/- 0.8 vs. C: 5.0 +/- 1.0 g/h, 105% difference; P = 0.004) following RE compared with the same time period on the C day. Therefore, the mechanism behind RE contributing to improved body composition is in part due to enhanced abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue lipolysis and improved whole body fat oxidation and energy expenditure in response to RE.