Serum adiponectin concentrations are higher in women than men. The sexual dimorphism for adiponectin has been attributed to the direct effects of testosterone on adipose tissue adiponectin secretion. However, serum testosterone and adiponectin concentrations are generally lower in obese men than lean men, suggesting that sex steroids may not be the only factor that contributes to sex differences in serum adiponectin. The primary objective of this study was to examine the influence of sex, body composition, and nonesterified fatty acids (NEFAs) on serum adiponectin concentrations. Women and men between the ages of 18 and 35 years were consecutively accrued into the study. Sixty-one participants were partitioned into normal-weight (15 female and 16 male) or obese (14 female and 16 male) groups. Blood samples were obtained after a 12-hour fast. Differences between groups were determined by analysis of variance with Tukey-Kramer post hoc testing. Serum adiponectin was 26% higher in women compared with men. Body mass index was associated with total serum adiponectin in men (r = -0.63, P < .05) but not women. Adiponectin was correlated with the homeostasis model assessment index in women (r = -0.56, P < .05) and men (r = -0.58, P < .05) and with NEFAs (r = -0.68, P < .05) in men only. After partitioning men and women into normal-weight and obese groups, serum adiponectin was lower and NEFAs were higher in obese men only. Homeostasis model assessment was similar between obese women and men despite higher NEFAs in the obese men. Leptin and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 were higher in obese participants but were not associated with serum NEFAs. These results suggest that serum NEFAs may reduce adiponectin concentrations independent of their effects on insulin sensitivity in obese young men. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.