Dysregulation of lipid metabolism in individual tissues leads to systemic disruption of insulin action and glucose metabolism. Utilizing quantitative lipidomic analyses and mice deficient in adipose tissue lipid chaperones aP2 and mal1, we explored how metabolic alterations in adipose tissue are linked to whole-body metabolism through lipid signals. A robust increase in de novo lipogenesis rendered the adipose tissue of these mice resistant to the deleterious effects of dietary lipid exposure. Systemic lipid profiling also led to identification of C16:1n7-palmitoleate as an adipose tissue-derived lipid hormone that strongly stimulates muscle insulin action and suppresses hepatosteatosis. Our data reveal a lipid-mediated endocrine network and demonstrate that adipose tissue uses lipokines such as C16:1n7-palmitoleate to communicate with distant organs and regulate systemic metabolic homeostasis.