Lipoic acid ( LA) is a naturally occurring compound with beneficial effects on obesity. The aim of this study was to evaluate its effects on lipolysis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes and the mechanisms involved. Our results revealed that LA induced a dose- and time-dependent lipolytic action, which was reversed by pretreatment with the c-Jun N-terminal kinase inhibitor SP600125, the PKA inhibitor H89, and the AMP-activated protein kinase activator AICAR. In contrast, the PI3K/Akt inhibitor LY294002 and the PDE3B antagonist cilostamide enhanced LA-induced lipolysis. LA treatment for 1 h did not modify total protein content of hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) but significantly increased the phosphorylation of HSL at Ser(563) and at Ser(660), which was reversed by H89. LA treatment also induced a marked increase in PKA-mediated perilipin phosphorylation. LA did not significantly modify the protein levels of adipose triglyceride lipase or its activator comparative gene identification 58 ( CGI-58) and inhibitor G(0)/G(1) switch gene 2 (G0S2). Furthermore, LA caused a significant inhibition of adipose-specific phospholipase A2 (AdPLA) protein and mRNA levels in parallel with a decrease in the amount of prostaglandin E-2 released and an increase in cAMP content. Together, these data suggest that the lipolytic actions of LA are mainly mediated by phosphorylation of HSL through cAMP-mediated activation of protein kinase A probably through the inhibition of AdPLA and prostaglandin E-2.