We investigated the effect of acetic acid (AcOH) on the prevention of obesity in high-fat-fed mice. The mice were intragastrically administrated with water or 0.3 or 1.5% AcOH for 6 weeks. AcOH administration inhibited the accumulation of body fat and hepatic lipids without changing food consumption or skeletal muscle weight. Significant increases were observed in the expressions of genes for peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARalpha) and for fatty-acid-oxidation- and thermogenesis-related proteins: acetyl-CoA oxidase (ACO), carnitine palmitoyl transferase-1 (CPT-1), and uncoupling protein-2 (UCP-2), in the liver of the AcOH-treatment groups. PPARalpha, ACO, CPT-1, and UCP-2 gene expressions were increased in vitro by acetate addition to HepG2 cells. However, the effects were not observed in cells depleted of alpha2 5'-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) by siRNA. In conclusion, AcOH suppresses accumulation of body fat and liver lipids by upregulation of genes for PPARalpha and fatty-acid-oxidation-related proteins by alpha2 AMPK mediation in the liver.