It has previously been shown that patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) exhibit alterations in both hepatic and adipose tissue metabolism, and the dietary factors that contribute to the pathogenesis of NAFLD are likely to be multifactorial. Using C57BL/6J mice, we examined whether chronic exposure to low-dose dietary monosodium glutamate (MSG), high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), or a combination of the two, vs. control would affect metabolism and hepatic and visceral fat gene expression in adult male progeny. A maternal diet containing 20% HFCS and/or dietary MSG (97.2 +/- 6.3 mg/kg body weight (bw), provided in the drinking water) was offered ad libitum from 3 weeks before mating, and continued throughout gestation and weaning until the progeny reached 32 weeks of age. Liver and abdominal fat gene expression was compared with control animals fed isocaloric standard chow under identical conditions. HFCS induced hepatic steatosis and increased the expression of genes involved in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Conversely, dietary MSG elevated serum free fatty acids (FFAs), triglycerides (TGs), high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C), and insulin, together with the expression of hepatic genes involved in lipid metabolism and bile synthesis. The HFCS+MSG combination elevated hepatic TGs, serum FFAs, and TG levels. In visceral white adipose tissue, both MSG and HFCS diets increased the expression of transcription factor Srebf2 and decreased expression of Ppargc1a, while downregulating the expression of mitochondrial respiratory chain components. MSG increased the expression of several genes implicated in adipocytes differentiation. We hypothesize that HFCS may promote hepatic steatosis, whereas dietary MSG induces dyslipidemia and markers of insulin resistance.