Recent studies have shown the ability of apelin to restore glucose tolerance in obese and insulin-resistant mice. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) from the omega-3 family that has many beneficial effects in obesity-linked disorders. The aim of this study was to examine in vitro the effects of EPA on apelin secretion and gene expression in mature 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Treatment with EPA (100 and 200 mu M) significantly increased basal (p<0.01) and insulin-stimulated (p<0.001) apelin secretion and gene expression in adipocytes. EPA also stimulated Akt phosphorylation, a down-stream target of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Moreover, treatment with the PI3K inhibitor LY294002 completely blocked EPA-stimulatory action on apelin mRNA gene expression (p<0.001), but not modified the stimulatory effect of EPA on basal apelin secretion. Furthermore, the stimulatory effect of EPA on basal apelin release was also observed in the presence of Actinomycin D and Cycloheximide, suggesting that EPA might also regulate apelin secretion by via post-transcriptional mechanisms. These findings suggest that the mechanisms mediating EPA-induced apelin synthesis and/or secretion are complex, involving steps that are PI3K dependent and steps that are PI3K independent.