Adipocyte size, lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity, and the lipolytic response to noradrenaline and isoproterenol were studied in three intraabdominal depots (mesenteric, omental, retroperitoneal), as well as in subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue, in nonobese groups of middle-aged men and in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Subcutaneous adipocytes were larger than intraabdominal adipocytes in all groups. The men had large adipocytes in all intraabdominal depots as compared with the women. The premenopausal women seemed to have low LPL activity in intraabdominal depots. Two types of responses to catecholamine-stimulated lipolysis were observed: a similar response from mesenteric and omental (portal) fat depots and from retroperitoneal and subcutaneous abdominal (nonportal) fat depots. Young women had higher lipolysis in nonportal than in portal adipose tissues. In the men the reverse characteristics were found. These dissimilarities seem to be based on differences in beta-adrenergic responsiveness. Postmenopausal women showed no differences between depots. The differences in lipolytic responsiveness between these groups might be caused by sex steroid hormones.