Resveratrol is a naturally occurring diphenolic compound exerting numerous beneficial effects in the organism. The present study demonstrated its short-term, direct influence on lipogenesis, lipolysis and the antilipolytic action of insulin in freshly isolated rat adipocytes. In fat cells incubated for 90 min with 125 and 250 microM resveratrol (but not with 62.5 microM resveratrol), basal and insulin-induced lipogenesis from glucose was significantly reduced. The antilipogenic effect was accompanied by a significant diminution of CO(2) release and enhanced production of lactate. The inhibition of glucose conversion to lipids found in the presence of resveratrol was not attenuated by activator of protein kinase C. However, acetate conversion to lipids appeared to be insensitive to resveratrol. In adipocytes incubated for 90 min with epinephrine, 10 and 100 microM resveratrol significantly enhanced lipolysis, especially at lower concentrations of the hormone. However, the lipolytic response to dibutyryl-cAMP, a direct activator of protein kinase A, was unchanged. Further studies demonstrated that, in cells stimulated with epinephrine, 1, 10 and 100 microM resveratrol significantly enhanced glycerol release despite the presence of insulin or H-89, an inhibitor of protein kinase A. The influence of resveratrol on epinephrine-induced lipolysis and on the antilipolytic action of insulin was not abated by the blocking of estrogen receptor and was accompanied by a significant (with the exception of 1 microM resveratrol in experiment with insulin) increase in cAMP in adipocytes. It was also revealed that resveratrol did not change the proportion between glycerol and fatty acids released from adipocytes exposed to epinephrine. Results of the present study revealed that resveratrol reduced glucose conversion to lipids in adipocytes, probably due to disturbed mitochondrial metabolism of the sugar. Moreover, resveratrol increased epinephrine-induced lipolysis. This effect was found also in the presence of insulin and resulted from the synergistic action of resveratrol and epinephrine. The obtained results provided evidence that resveratrol affects lipogenesis and lipolysis in adipocytes contributing to reduced lipid accumulation in these cells.