Ceramide is involved in development of insulin resistance. However, there are no data on ceramide metabolism in human adipose tissue. The aim of our study was to examine sphingolipid metabolism in fat tissue from obese nondiabetic (n = 11), obese diabetic (n = 11), and lean nondiabetic (n = 8) subjects. The content of ceramide (Cer), dihydroceramide (dhCer), sphingosine (SPH), sphinganine (SPA), sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P; pmol/mg of protein), the expression (mRNA) and activity of key enzymes responsible for Cer metabolism: serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT), neutral and acidic sphingomyelinase (nSMase and aSMase, respectively), and neutral and acidic ceramidase (nCDase and aCDase, respectively) were examined in human adipose tissue. The contents of SPA and Cer were significantly lower whereas the content of dhCer was higher in both obese groups than the respective values in the lean subjects. The expression of examined enzymes was elevated in both obese groups. The SPT and CDases activity increased whereas aSMase activity deceased in both obese groups. We have found correlation between adipose tissue Cer content and plasma adiponectin concentration (r = 0.69, P < 0.001) and negative correlation between total Cer content and HOMA-IR index (homeostasis model of insulin resistance) (r = −0.67, P < 0.001). We have found that both obesity and diabetes affected pathways of sphingolipid metabolism in the adipose tissue. J. Cell. Physiol. 227: 550–557, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.