To evaluate the effect of metformin on basal and insulin-induced glucose uptake in subcutaneous and visceral preadipocyte-derived adipocytes from obese and non-obese patients, preadipocytes were obtained from subcutaneous and visceral fat depots during abdominal surgery. Differentiation efficiency was evaluated by measurement of intracellular triglyceride accumulation. Preadipocyte-derived adipocytes were treated with metformin (1 mM) for 24 h with or without the addition of insulin (100 nM) for 20 min and glucose uptake was measured. In cells from each donor, intracellular triglyceride accumulation was more abundant in subcutaneous preadipocyte-derived adipocytes than in visceral preadipocyte-derived adipocytes (p < 0.001). Insulin stimulated glucose uptake in subcutaneous preadipocyte-derived adipocytes from both non-obese and obese patients (p < 0.001 vs. basal). In visceral preadipocyte-derived adipocytes, insulin did not increase basal glucose uptake. In subcutaneous preadipocyte-derived adipocytes from non-obese and obese patients, metformin alone increased glucose uptake to 2.7 +/- 0.2 (p < 0.001) and 2.1 +/- 0.1 fold (p < 0.001) respectively. Metformin increased glucose uptake in visceral preadipocyte-derived adipocytes from non-obese (1.7 +/- 0.1 fold vs. basal, p < 0.001) and obese (2.0 +/- 0.2 fold vs. basal, p < 0.001) patients. Combined treatment with metformin and insulin increased glucose uptake in subcutaneous preadipocyte-derived adipocytes from both non-obese and obese patients (p < 0.001 vs. insulin alone). In preadipocyte-derived adipocytes glucose uptake is induced by metformin independent of the fat depot origin of the preadipocytes (subcutaneous or visceral) and the obesity state of the patients (non-obese or obese). In adipocytes, metformin seems to induce glucose uptake independent of insulin suggesting an alternative mechanism of action of this drug.