Obesity is now recognized as a disease. This study revealed a novel role for pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) in diet-induced hypertrophic obesity. Mice with global or adipose tissue-specific PDK2 deficiency were protected against diet-induced obesity. The weight of adipose tissues and the size of adipocytes were reduced. Adipocyte-specific PDK2 deficiency slightly increased insulin sensitivity in HFD-fed mice. In studies with 3T3-L1 preadipocytes, PDK2 and PDK1 expression was strongly increased during adipogenesis. Evidence was found for epigenetic induction of both PDK1 and PDK2. Gain- and loss-of-function studies with 3T3-L1 cells revealed a critical role for PDK1/2 in adipocyte differentiation and lipid accumulation. PDK1/2 induction during differentiation was also accompanied by increased expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF1α) and enhanced lactate production, both of which were absent in the context of PDK1/2 deficiency. Exogenous lactate supplementation increased the stability of HIF1α and promoted adipogenesis. PDK1/2 overexpression-mediated adipogenesis was abolished by HIF1α inhibition, suggesting a role for the PDK-lactate-HIF1α axis during adipogenesis. In human adipose tissue, the expression of PDK1/2 was positively correlated with that of the adipogenic marker PPARγ and inversely correlated with obesity. Similarly, PDK1/2 expression in mouse adipose tissue was decreased by chronic high-fat diet feeding. We conclude that PDK1 and 2 are novel regulators of adipogenesis that play critical roles in obesity.