Cardiovascular and metabolic parameters were evaluated in 15 female spayed dogs before and after they became obese on either a saturated fat (LD, lard, n=8) or unsaturated fat (CO, corn oil, n=7) diet. Body weight and body fat increased significantly in both groups, although no differences occurred between diet groups. Dogs receiving the LD diet exhibited a greater increase in mean arterial pressure than those receiving the CO diet (p<0.01; 15.9 +/- 2.1 vs. 9.8 +/- 3.3 mm Hg increase). The CO diet stimulated a greater increase in heart rate than the LD diet (p<0.05; 32.8 +/- 7.8 vs. 14.1 +/- 5.8 bpm increase). Ganglionic blockade with chlorisondamine caused an increase in HR in both lean groups and in the obese CO group, but not the obese LD group, consistent with a decrease in parasympathetic tone to the heart in the dogs overfed saturated fat. Obesity enhanced the heart rate response to beta-adrenergic stimulation by isoproterenol in the LD, but not CO group. The LD diet increased circulating insulin and decreased insulin sensitivity, whereas the CO diet had no effect on either parameter. These findings suggest that the composition of dietary fat can modulate the autonomic and metabolic adaptations induced by dietary obesity.