Both adiponectin, an adipokine secreted by adipocytes, and vanadium compounds, have been extensively shown to enhance insulin sensitivity in vivo and in vitro. In this study we examined whether insulin and vanadyl sulfate (VS) affected adiponectin release and cell content from 3T3-L1 adipocytes, and whether they acted through a similar signaling pathway. Adiponectin cell content, but not release, consistently increased in cells treated with insulin (100 nM) and VS (10 and 50 microM) after 24 h. On the other hand, VS-induced adiponectin release only occurred after 4 days of incubation. The protein kinase B (PKB) inhibitor, NL-71-101, decreased both insulin and VS-induced adiponectin cell content, while neither wortmannin nor LY 294002, inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K), attenuated insulin or VS-induced adiponectin cell content. Furthermore, VS-induced adiponectin accumulation occurred in the presence of AGL2263, an insulin receptor (IR) inhibitor. These studies provide the first evidence that vanadium could exert its insulin sensitizing effects through the stimulation of adiponectin through a PKB-dependent transduction pathway.