Toll-like receptor-4 (Tlr-4), a key pattern recognition receptor involved in innate immune response, is activated by saturated fatty acids (SFAs). To investigate the involvement of this receptor in obesity caused by consumption of diets high in fat, we utilized male Tlr-4-deficient 10ScN mice and 10J controls. Mice were fed either low fat (low-fat control (LFC)), high unsaturated fat (high-fat control (HFC)), or high saturated fat + palmitate (HFP) diets ad libitum for 16 weeks. Relative to the LFC diet, the HFC diet resulted in greater epididymal fat pad weights and adipocyte hypertrophy in both Tlr-4-deficient and normal mice. However, the 10ScN mice were completely protected against the obesigenic effects of the HFP diet. Moreover, macrophage infiltration and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) transcript abundance were lower in adipose tissue of 10ScN mice fed the HFP diet, and the hyperinsulinemic response was negated. Tlr-4-deficient mice also had markedly lower circulating concentrations of MCP-1 and much less nuclear factor-kappaB (NFkappaB) protein in nuclear extracts prepared from adipose tissue, irrespective of diet. In contrast, Tlr-4 deficiency did not attenuate the induction of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) or interleukin-6 (IL-6) expression in adipose tissue. These data indicate that Tlr-4 deficiency selectively protects against the obesigenic effects of SFA and alters obesity-related inflammatory responses in adipose tissue.