NK cells are a key component of innate immune systems, and their activity is regulated by cytokines and hormones. Adiponectin, which is secreted from white adipose tissues, plays important roles in various diseases, including hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory disorders, and cancer. In this study the effect of adiponectin on NK cell activity was investigated. Adiponectin was found to suppress the IL-2-enhanced cytotoxic activity of NK cells without affecting basal NK cell cytotoxicity and to inhibit IL-2-induced NF-kappa B activation via activation of the AMP-activated protein kinase, indicating that it suppresses IL-2enhanced NK cell cytotoxicity through the AMP-activated protein kinase-mediated inhibition of NF-kappa B activation. IFN-gamma enhances NK cell cytotoxicity by causing an increase in the levels of expression of TRAIL and Fas ligand. The production of IFN-gamma, one of the NF-kappa B target genes in NK cells, was alsofound to be suppressed by adiponectin, accompanied by the subsequent down-regulation of IFN-gamma-inducible TRAIL and Fas ligand expression. These results clearly demonstrate that adiponectin is a potent negative regulator of IL-2-induced NK cell activation and thus may act as an in vivo regulator of anti-inflammatory functions.