Lactoferrin (LF), a multifunctional glycoprotein in mammalian milk, is reported to exert a modulatory effect on lipid metabolism. The aim of the present study was to elucidate whether enteric-coated LF (eLF) might improve visceral fat-type obesity, an underlying cause of the metabolic syndrome. Using a double-blind, placebo-controlled design, Japanese men and women (n 26; aged 22-60 years) with abdominal obesity (BMI>25 kg/m2, and visceral fat area (VFA)>100 cm2) consumed eLF (300 mg/d as bovine LF) or placebo tablets for 8 weeks. Measurement of the total fat area, VFA and subcutaneous fat area from computed tomography images revealed a significant reduction in VFA ( - 14.6 cm2) in the eLF group, as compared with the placebo controls ( - 1.8 cm2; P = 0.009 by ANCOVA). Decreases in body weight, BMI and hip circumference in the eLF group ( - 1.5 kg, - 0.6 kg/m2, - 2.6 cm) were also found to be significantly greater than with the placebo (+1.0 kg, +0.3 kg/m2, - 0.2 cm; P = 0.032, 0.013, 0.041, respectively). There was also a tendency for a reduction in waist circumference in the eLF group ( - 4.4 cm) as compared with the placebo group ( - 0.9 cm; P = 0.073). No adverse effects of the eLF treatment were found with regard to blood lipid or biochemical parameters. From these results, eLF appears to be a promising agent for the control of visceral fat accumulation.