To analyze in severely obese women the circadian expression of the clock genes hPer2, hBmal1, and hCry1 in explants from subcutaneous (SAT) and visceral (VAT) adipose tissue (AT), in order to elucidate whether this circadian clockwork can oscillate accurately and independently of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and if glucocorticoid metabolism-related genes such as glucocorticoid receptor (hGr) and 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 (h11 beta Hsd1) and the transcription factor peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma (hPPAR gamma) are part of the clock controlled genes. AT biopsies were obtained from morbid obese patients (BMI > or =40 kg/m(2)) (n = 7). Anthropometric variables were measured and fasting plasma lipids and lipoprotein concentrations were analyzed. In order to carry out rhythmic expression analysis, AT explants were cultured during 24 h and gene expression was performed at the following times (T): 0, 6, 12, and 18 h, with quantitative real-time PCR. Clock genes oscillated accurately and independently of the SCN in AT explants. Their intrinsic oscillatory mechanism regulated the timing of other genes such as hPPAR gamma and glucocorticoid-related genes. Circadian patterns differed between VAT and SAT. Correlation analyses between the genetic circadian oscillation and components of the metabolic syndrome (MetS) revealed that subjects with a higher sagittal diameter showed an increased circadian variability in hPer2 expression (r = 0.91; P = 0.031) and hBmal1 (r = 0.90; P = 0.040). Data demonstrate the presence of peripheral circadian oscillators in human AT independently of the central circadian control mechanism. This knowledge paves the way for a better understanding of the circadian contribution to medical conditions such as obesity and MetS.