Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 is elevated in obesity and may be a risk factor for obesity/NIDDM related cardiovascular disease. In spite of this, little is known about the tissue and cellular origin of elevated PAI-1 in obesity or of the mediators and molecular mechanisms that regulate it. We have begun to systematically address these issues using genetically obese (ob/ob, db/db) mice. Plasma PAI-1 levels were 5-fold higher in obese mice compared to their lean counterparts. Subsequent RT-PCR and in situ hybridization studies suggest that the increased plasma PAI-1 originates primarily from the adipocyte in response to chronically elevated levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), insulin, and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta). Thus, the signals and mechanisms that lead to elevated plasma PAI-1 observed in obesity are complex, and appear to involve interactions between multiple mediators and the adipose tissue itself.