Adiponectin circulates in human plasma mainly as a 180-kDa low molecular weight (LMW) hexamer and a high molecular weight (HMW) multimer of ∼360 kDa. We comprehensively examined the relationships between circulating levels of total adiponectin, adiponectin multimers, and the relative distribution (i.e., ratio) of multimeric forms with key features of the metabolic syndrome. Total adiponectin (r = 0.45), HMW (r = 0.47), LMW (r = 0.31), and HMW-to-total adiponectin ratio (r = 0.29) were significantly correlated with insulin-stimulated glucose disposal rate. Similarly, total (r = -0.30), HMW (r = -0.38), and HMW-to-total adiponectin ratio (r = -0.34) were correlated with central fat distribution but not with total fat mass or BMI. Regarding energy metabolism, although there were no effects on resting metabolic rate, total (r = 0.41) and HMW (r = 0.44) were associated with increasing rates of fat oxidation. HMW-to-total adiponectin ratio increased as a function of total adiponectin, and it was HMW quantity (not total or HMW-to-total adiponectin ratio or LMW) that was primarily responsible for all of these relationships. Impact on nuclear magnetic resonance lipoprotein subclasses was assessed. HMW and total adiponectin were correlated with decreases in large VLDL (r = -0.44 and -0.41); decreases in small LDL (r = -0.41 and -0.36) and increases in large LDL (r = 0.36 and 0.30) particle concentrations accompanied by increased LDL particle size (r = 0.47 and 0.39); and increases in large HDL (r = 0.45 and 0.37) and HDL particle size (r = 0.53 and 0.47). Most of these correlations persisted after adjustment for metabolic covariables. In conclusion, first, serum adiponectin is associated with increased insulin sensitivity, reduced abdominal fat, and high basal lipid oxidation; however, it is HMW quantity, not total or HMW-to-total adiponectin ratio, that is primarily responsible for these relationships. Second, reduced quantities of HMW independently recapitulate the lipoprotein subclass profile associated with insulin resistance after correcting for glucose disposal rate and BMI. Finally, HMW adiponectin is an important factor in explaining the metabolic syndrome. © 2006 by the American Diabetes Association.