We previously reported the presence of a protein growth factor in rat adipose tissue which specifically permits the proliferation of 3T3-L1 and Obl771 preadipocytes [Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 1990;171:905–912, ref. 1] and which is hereinafter referred to as PAGF (preadipocyte growth factor). In this study, the effects of long-term restricted energy intake on the PAGF activity in rat epididymal and perirenal adipose tissue toward 3T3-L1 preadipocytes were investigated. When rats were subjected to restricted energy intake for three weeks, PAGF activity increased with energy intake. The body weight, epididymal and perirenal fat depot weights and glycerol 3-phosphate dehydrogenase activity also increased with the energy intake, whereas the lactate dehydrogenase activity remained almost constant in all energy intake groups. These results suggest that the PAGF in fat depots functions in response to energy intake and contributes to the de novo formation of adipocytes and the growth of adipose tissue. This factor may provide a useful tool for further elucidation of the relationship between energy storage in adipose tissue and adipose tissue development.