The 3T3-L1 murine cell line is a robust and widely used model for the study of adipogenesis and processes occurring in mature adipocytes. The fibroblastic like cells can be induced by hormones to differentiate into mature adipocytes. In this study, the metabolic phenotype associated with differentiation of the 3T3-L1 cell line has been studied using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, (1)H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, direct infusion-mass spectrometry, and 13C substrate labeling in conjunction with multivariate statistics. The changes in metabolite concentrations at distinct periods during differentiation have been defined including alterations in the TCA cycle, glycolysis, the production of odd chain fatty acids by alpha-oxidation, fatty acid synthesis, fatty acid desaturation, polyamine biosynthesis, and trans-esterification to produce complex lipids. The metabolic changes induced during differentiation of the 3T3-L1 cell line were then compared with the metabolic differences between pre- and postdifferentiation primary adipocytes. These metabolic alterations reflect the changing role of the 3T3-L1 cells during differentiation, as well as possibly providing metabolic triggers to stimulate the processes which occur during differentiation.