Genetic studies in mice have identified the ob gene product as a potential signaling factor regulating body weight homeostasis and energy balance. It is suggested that modulation of ob gene expression results in changes in body weight and food intake. Glucocorticoids are shown to have important metabolic effects and to modulate food intake and body weight. In order to test the hypothesis that these metabolic effects of glucocorticoids are linked to changes in the expression of the ob gene, ob mRNA levels were evaluated in rats treated with different glucocorticosteroids at catabolic doses and correlated to the kinetics of changes in body weight gain and food intake. Results from time course experiments demonstrate that adipose tissue ob gene expression is rapidly induced by glucocorticosteroids. This induction is followed by a concordant decrease in body weight gain and food consumption. These data suggest that the catabolic effects of corticosteroids on body weight mass and food intake might be mediated by changes in ob expression. Modulation of ob expression may therefore constitute a mechanism through which hormonal, pharmacological, or other factors control body weight homeostasis.