The central administration of apelin, a recently identified adipokine, has been shown to affect food and water intake. The present study investigated whether body weight could affect an animal's response to apelin. The effects of centrally-administered apelin-13 on food and water intake, activity and metabolic rate were investigated in adult male diet-induced obese (DIO) rats fed either a high fat (32%) or control diet. Rats were administered i.c.v. apelin-13, 15-30 min prior to lights out, and food and water intake, activity and metabolic rate were assessed. Intracerebroventricular administration of apelin-13 decreased food and water intake and respiratory exchange ratio in DIO rats on the control diet, but had no effect in DIO rats on the high-fat diet. In an effort to identify potential central mechanisms explaining the observed physiological responses, the mRNA level of the apelin receptor, APJ, was examined in the hypothalamus. A high-fat diet induced an up-regulation of the expression of the receptor. Apelin induced a down-regulation of the receptor, but only in the DIO animals on the high-fat diet. In conclusion, we have demonstrated a diminished central nervous system response to apelin that is coincident with obesity.