The size of adipocytes influences their function suggesting a differential responsiveness to intervention. We hypothesized that weight loss in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) predominantly decreases the size of large and very-large adipocyte subfractions in parallel with beneficial changes in serum adipokines and improved insulin sensitivity. A total of 44 volunteers from the Look Action for Health in Diabetes trial, who lost weight after 1-year of intense lifestyle intervention, were included. Insulin sensitivity (hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp), size of subcutaneous abdominal adipocytes (osmium fixation), and selected serum adipokines were measured. A 13% weight loss was accompanied by 46% improvement in insulin sensitivity (increased glucose disposal rate from 5.9+/-2.2 to 8.6+/-2.7 mg/min/kg fat-free mass, P<0.05) in parallel with a 36% increase in plasma adiponectin concentration (6.1+/-3.1 to 8.3+/-3.9 microg/ml, P<0.05], but no changes in the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha. Change in adiponectin correlated with changes in glucose disposal rate (r=0.34, P<0.05). Mean adipocyte size decreased (0.84+/-0.25 to 0.64+/-0.23 microl, P<0.05), mainly due to changes in the large adipocyte subfraction (size 0.75-0.44 microl, relative number 19-26%; P<0.05). Our data suggest that change in the large adipocyte subfraction may contribute to the improvement in insulin sensitivity via an increase in serum adiponectin. Such a relationship, which does not imply cause and effect, could not be obtained by measuring only mean adipocyte size. These data provide support for the measures of adipocyte size distribution in concert with in vitro adipokine secretion and lipolysis in future studies.