The aim of this study was to determine the effect of adoptive transfer of regulatory natural killer T (NKT) lymphocytes on the metabolic disorder in leptin-deficient ob/ob mice, which feature depletion and defective function of NKT and CD4 lymphocytes. Leptin-deficient ob/ob mice were subjected to transplantation of 1 × 106 of either ob/ob or wild-type-derived NKT lymphocytes, or to transplantation of either ob/ob or wild-type-derived splenocytes. The effect on hepatic fat content was measured by magnetic resonance imaging (signal intensity index) and histology, using the steatohepatitis grading scale. The degree of glucose intolerance was measured by an oral glucose tolerance test (GTT). Adoptive transfer of wild-type or ob/ob-derived regulatory NKT cells led to a 12% decrease in hepatic fat content. A significant histological shift from macrosteatosis to microsteatosis was observed. Marked improvement in the GTT was noted in wild-type or ob/ob-derived NKT recipients. Metabolic effects were associated with a significant decrease in peripheral and intrahepatic CD4/CD8 lymphocyte ratios. Intrahepatic CD8 trapping was observed in all responders. Serum interleukin 10 levels decreased significantly. In conclusion, adoptive transfer of a relatively small number of regulatory NKT lymphocytes into ob/ob mice results in a significant reduction in hepatic fat content, a shift from macro to microsteatosis, and significant improvement in glucose intolerance. These effects were associated with decreased peripheral and intrahepatic CD4/CD8 ratios and decreased interleukin 10 levels. The results further support a role for regulatory NKT lymphocytes in the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis in the leptin-deficient murine model. Copyright © 2006 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.