Alterations of hypothalamic neuropeptide Y(NPY) and melanocortinergic functions in diet-induced obese (DIO) C57BL/6J mice were investigated by in situ hybridization. Compared with controls, the DIO mice displayed a profound induction (approximately 40-fold) of NPY expression in the dorsomedial (DMH) and ventromedial (VMH) hypothalamic nuclei, whereas the level of NPY mRNA in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) was reduced by 44%. The expression of pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) and agouti-related protein was not significantly altered in the ARC of obese mice. Both excess body weight gain and altered hypothalamic NPY expression were reversible. We propose that the highly induced NPY expression in DMH and/or VMH may be a contributing etiological factor for the development of obesity and leptin resistance in the DIO mice.