Hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) catalyzes the rate-limiting step in adipocyte lipolysis. We have studied the effect of glucose and long chain fatty acids on the HSL mRNA content of 3T3-F442A adipocytes. Exposure of the cells for 32 h to a medium without glucose led to a decrease by a factor of 2.5-3 in the HSL mRNA without a change in C/EBP alpha mRNA or triglyceride content of the adipocytes. The reduction in HSL mRNA level was accompanied by a decrease in HSL total activity. The effect of glucose exposure was observed after 24 h of exposure and was reversible. Treatment of the adipocytes with oleate did not affect HSL expression. These data show that glucose modulates HSL gene expression and hence could participate in the regulation of adipose tissue lipolysis.