Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), characterized by cyclic intermittent hypoxia (IH) during sleep, is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Adiponectin (APN), an adipocytokine secreted exclusively by adipocytes, possesses antiatherogenic properties. Low levels of APN, particularly the high-molecular-weight (HMW) form, are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Here, we hypothesized that IH would result in the dysregulation of APN expression and secretion. 3T3-L1 adipocytes were exposed to IH at 12 cycles/h for 6 h/d to simulate the IH condition similar to that encountered in OSA. Control adipocytes were exposed to 21% O(2) under identical conditions. After 48 h of incubation, IH caused a decrease in the secretion of total and HMW APN in spite of a significant upregulation of APN mRNA expression by adipocytes. This study suggested a novel mechanism of how the cyclic hypoxemia in OSA predisposes OSA patients to cardiovascular disease through the dysregulation of secretion of APN by adipocytes. Further studies are needed to determine the exact molecular mechanism how IH reduces the release of APN by adipocytes.