Berberine exerts a hypoglycemic effect, but the mechanism remains unknown. In the present study, the effect of berberine on glucose uptake was characterized in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. It was revealed that berberine stimulated glucose uptake in 3T3-L1 adipocytes in a dose- and time-dependent manner with the maximal effect at 12 hours. Glucose uptake was increased by berberine in 3T3-L1 preadipocytes as well. Berberine-stimulated glucose uptake was additive to that of insulin in 3T3-L1 adipocytes, even at the maximal effective concentrations of both components. Unlike insulin, the effect of berberine on glucose uptake was insensitive to wortmannin, an inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, and SB203580, an inhibitor of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. Berberine activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2, but PD98059, an ERK kinase inhibitor, only decreased berberine-stimulated glucose uptake by 32%. Berberine did not induce Ser473 phosphorylation of Akt nor enhance insulin-induced phosphorylation of Akt. Meanwhile, the expression and cellular localization of glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) were not altered by berberine. Berberine did not increase GLUT1 gene expression. However, genistein, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, completely blocked berberine-stimulated glucose uptake in 3T3-L1 adipocytes and preadipocytes, suggesting that berberine may induce glucose transport via increasing GLUT1 activity. In addition, berberine increased adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase and acetyl-coenzyme A carboxylase phosphorylation. These findings suggest that berberine increases glucose uptake through a mechanism distinct from insulin, and activated adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase seems to be involved in the metabolic effect of berberine.