Elevated circulating concentrations of interleukin-18 (IL-18), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) and decrease of adiponectin are associated with obesity-related diseases. The mechanism that mediates the aberrant production of the adipokines remains poorly understood. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of intermittent high glucose on the expression of IL-18, MCP-1, and PAI-1 and adiponectin in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. 3T3-L1 adipocytes were incubated for 24 h in media containing different glucose concentrations: 5 mmol/l, 20 mmol/l and a daily alternating 5 or 20 mmol/l glucose, with or without the addition of1.0 mmol/l N-acetylcysteine (NAC). The expression and secretion of IL-18, MCP-1, PAI-1, and adiponectin were determined by real-time RT-PCR and ELISA, respectively.The production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine(8-OHdG) were measured. Stable high glucose significantly increased expression and secretion of IL-18, MCP-1, and PAI-1, and reduced adiponectin expression and secretion compared to normal glucose conditions.These effects were significantly greater under intermittent high glucose conditions compared to stable high glucose. The level of ROS and 8-OHdG were significantly elevated under both intermittent and stable high glucose conditions, the effect being greater under intermittent high glucose. The intermittent glucose was more effective in triggering the generation of ROS than stable high glucose. The adding of the NAC, aspecific pharmacological inhibitor of ROS, normalized the expression of these adipokines and the levels of ROS and 8-OHdG under both stable and intermittent glucose conditions.Intermittent high glucose induces a greater aberrant production of key adipokines than stable high glucose, and this effect seems to be related to over-production of ROS.