Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) is a bioactive phospholipid acting via specific G protein-coupled receptors that is synthesized at the extracellular face of adipocytes by a secreted lysophospholipase D (autotaxin). Preadipocytes mainly express the LPA(1) receptor subtype, and LPA increases their proliferation. In monocytes and CV1 cells LPA was recently reported to bind and activate peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma), a transcription factor also known to play a pivotal role in adipogenesis. Here we show that, unlike the PPARgamma agonist rosiglitazone, LPA was unable to increase transcription of PPARgamma-sensitive genes (PEPCK and ALBP) in the mouse preadipose cell line 3T3F442A. In contrast, treatment with LPA decreased PPARgamma2 expression, impaired the response of PPARgamma-sensitive genes to rosiglitazone, reduced triglyceride accumulation, and reduced the expression of adipocyte mRNA markers. The anti-adipogenic activity of LPA was also observed in the human SGBS (Simpson-Golabi-Behmel syndrome) preadipocyte cell line, as well as in primary preadipocytes isolated from wild type mice. Conversely, the anti-adipogenic activity of LPA was not observed in primary preadipocytes from LPA(1) receptor knock-out mice, which, in parallel, exhibited a higher adiposity than wild type mice. In conclusion, LPA does not behave as a potent PPARgamma agonist in adipocytes but, conversely, inhibits PPARgamma expression and adipogenesis via LPA(1) receptor activation. The local production of LPA may exert a tonic inhibitory effect on the development of adipose tissue.