The purpose of this study was to investigate the molecular mechanism whereby insulin increases expression of a key de novo lipogenic gene, fatty acid synthase (FAS), in cultured human adipocytes and hepatoma cells. RNA isolated from cultured adipocytes or from Hep G2 cells treated with or without insulin (20 nM) was analyzed. In addition, run-on transcription assays and measurements of RNA half-life were performed to determine the controlled step in FAS gene regulation by insulin. We demonstrated that FAS mRNA was expressed in both Hep G2 cells and human adipocytes. Insulin induced an approximately five- and three-fold increase in FAS mRNA content in adipocytes and hepatoma cells, respectively. Similar regulation of FAS was observed in adipocytes from lean and obese human subjects. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the induction of human FAS expression by insulin was due to increased transcription rate of the FAS gene in human adipocytes, whereas mRNA stabilization accounted for increased FAS mRNA content in hepatoma cells. In conclusion, we report here for the first time expression of human FAS mRNA and its specific transcriptional induction by insulin in cultured human adipocytes.