The lipid fraction ("fat cake") of rat epididymal adipocytes contains a prominent phosphoprotein (62 kDaapp by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis) that is multiply phosphorylated by cAMP-dependent protein kinase in vivo, at which point it migrates as a 65/67-kDaapp doublet by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and is by far the most heavily radiolabeled protein in the cell. Western blot analysis of various tissues with immunopurified antibodies purified from antisera raised against the 62-kDa species suggests that the protein is specific for adipocytes. This protein, which we term perilipin, is found in differentiated cultured 3T3-L1 adipocytes, but not in their precursor 3T3-L1 fibroblasts. Immunocytochemical studies with specific antiserum shows that the perilipin is closely associated with the periphery of lipid storage droplets in cultured adipocytes. Given its adipocyte specificity, acute regulation by hormones, and subcellular location, we speculate that perilipin plays a role in the specialized lipid storage function of adipocytes.