The presence of obesity increases the risk of thrombotic vascular diseases. The role of fat accumulation and its effect on plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) levels was investigated in humans and animals. Plasma PAI-1 levels were closely correlated with visceral fat area but not with subcutaneous fat area in human subjects. PAI-1 mRNA was detected in both types of fat tissue in obese rats but increased only in visceral fat during the development of obesity. These data suggest that an enhanced expression of the PAI-1 gene in visceral fat may increase plasma levels and may have a role in the development of vascular disease in visceral obesity.