In the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study (WOSCOPS), treatment of hypercholesterolemic men with pravastatin, an inhibitor of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase, reduced their likelihood to progress to diabetes mellitus by 30%. However, the mechanism of this effect of pravastatin has not been investigated. In the current study, we examined the effect of pravastatin on the development of diabetes in obese diabetic mice, and on the insulin-induced glucose uptake and adiponectin production. Pravastatin treatment attenuated the development of diabetes in db/db and high fat/high sucrose diet-fed C57BL/6J mice. An in vivo glucose transport assay showed that pravastatin upregulated glucose uptake in adipose tissue. Insulin-stimulated glucose uptake was enhanced in primary adipocytes isolated from pravastatin-treated mice. Pravastatin treatment increased adiponectin production in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Plasma adiponectin levels were significantly increased in pravastatin-treated mice. Analyses of plasma samples from the WOSCOPS biobank indicated a significant increase of plasma adiponectin levels with pravastatin treatment (placebo -0.28+/-0.34 microg/ml versus pravastatin +1.47+/-0.33 microg/ml, p=0.0003). Taken together, our findings suggest that pravastatin may have beneficial effects on adipose tissue, which may partly explain the reduction of the development of diabetes by pravastatin treatment.