Flaxseed lignan secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG) has been reported to prevent and alleviate lifestyle-related diseases including diabetes and hypercholesterolaemic atherosclerosis. This study assesses the effect of SDG on the development of diet-induced obesity in mice and the effect of the SDG metabolite enterodiol (END) on adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. We compared body weight, visceral fat weight, liver fat content, serum parameters, mRNA levels of lipid metabolism-related enzymes and adiponectin in mice fed either a low-fat diet (5 % TAG), high-fat diet (30 % TAG) or high-fat diet containing 0.5 and 1.0 % (w/w) SDG for 4 weeks. Administration of SDG to mice significantly reduced high-fat diet-induced visceral and liver fat accumulation, hyperlipaemia, hypercholesterolaemia, hyperinsulinaemia and hyperleptinaemia. SDG also suppressed sterol regulatory element binding protein 1c mRNA level in the liver and induced increases in the adiponectin mRNA level in the white adipose tissue and carnitine palmitoyltransferase I mRNA level in the skeletal muscle. Differentiated 3T3-L1 adipocytes were treated with 0, 5, 10 and 20 mumol/l END and then assayed for mRNA expression of adipogenesis-related genes and DNA binding activity of PPARgamma to the PPAR response element consensus sequence. END induced adipogenesis-related gene mRNA expression including adiponectin, leptin, glucose transporter 4 and PPARgamma, and induced PPARgamma DNA binding activity in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. In conclusion, SDG induced adiponectin mRNA expression and showed beneficial effects on lipid metabolism in diet-induced obesity in mice. Flaxseed lignans are suggested to regulate adipogenesis-related gene expressions through an increase in PPARgamma DNA binding activity.