BACKGROUND/AIM We tested the hypothesis that a persistent reduction in free fatty acid (FFA) levels improves cardiac function and systemic insulin sensitivity via a reduction in the myocardial and skeletal muscle adiposities and a modulation in adipokine release. METHODS Study subjects (body mass index 22-30 kg/m(2), 57 ± 3 yr old) underwent magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy to measure the cardiac function and the amounts of fat inside and around the myocardium and skeletal muscle, before (n = 10) and after acute (n = 8) and 1 wk (n = 7, one excluded from analysis) lowering of circulating FFA by acipimox. Circulating adipokines (leptin, adiponectin, resistin, TNFα, IL-6, IL-8, plasminogen activator inhibitor-I, macrophage chemoattractant protein-1) were measured. RESULTS The ejection fraction (62 ± 2 vs. 56 ± 1%, P = 0.0035), cardiac output (6.6 ± 0.3 vs. 5.5 ± 0.2 liters/min, P = 0.0018), and forward work (708 ± 49 vs. 539 ± 44 mm Hg × liters/min, P = 0.018) were significantly lower after 1 wk of FFA lowering. In the six subjects undergoing all sessions, the stroke and end-diastolic volumes were also reduced, insulin sensitivity was increased by 33%, and adiponectinemia was decreased (-26%, P = 0.03). No change in intracellular cardiac and skeletal muscle triglyceride levels was observed. Metabolic changes correlated with the lowering of FFA. The reduction in cardiac function was related with changes in glycemia and insulin sensitivity, whereas the deflection in left ventricular work was correlated with the decline in FFA, lipid, and blood pressure levels. CONCLUSIONS A 1-wk FFA depletion suppressed cardiac function and improved insulin sensitivity. Intracellular triglyceride deposits in the heart and skeletal muscle played no role in the observed changes. Our data show that FFA participate in the physiological regulation of adipokine levels.