The metabolic consequences of visceral obesity have been associated with amplification of glucocorticoid action by 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11beta-HSD1) in adipose tissue. This study aimed to assess in a rat model of diet-induced obesity the effects of pharmacological 11beta-HSD1 inhibition on the morphology and expression of key genes of lipid metabolism in intraabdominal adipose depots. Rats fed a high-sucrose, high-fat diet were treated or not with a specific 11beta-HSD1 inhibitor (compound A, 3 mg/kg.d) for 3 wk. Compound A did not alter food intake or body weight gain but specifically reduced mesenteric adipose weight (-18%) and adipocyte size, without significantly affecting those of epididymal or retroperitoneal depots. In mesenteric fat, the inhibitor decreased (to 25-50% of control) mRNA levels of genes involved in lipid synthesis (FAS, SCD1, DGAT1) and fatty acid cycling (lipolysis/reesterification, ATGL and PEPCK) and increased (30%) the activity of the fatty acid oxidation-promoting enzyme carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1. In striking contrast, in the epididymal depot, 11beta-HSD1 inhibition increased (1.5-5-fold) mRNA levels of those genes related to lipid synthesis/cycling and slightly decreased carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 activity, whereas gene expression remained unaffected in the retroperitoneal depot. Compound A robustly reduced liver triacylglycerol content and plasma lipids. The study demonstrates that pharmacological inhibition of 11beta-HSD1, at a dose that does not alter food intake, reduces fat accretion specifically in the mesenterical adipose depot, exerts divergent intraabdominal depot-specific effects on genes of lipid metabolism, and reduces steatosis and lipemia.