Adipocyte lines are a useful tool for adipocyte research. Recently, a new preadipocyte line designated AP-18 was established from subcutaneous tissue of the C3H/He mouse. In this study, we further characterized AP-18 cells. Adipocyte differentiation was assessed by accumulation of fat droplets stained by Oil Red O. The expression of the preadipocyte- or adipocyte-specific genes and adipocytokine genes was analysed qualitatively by RT-PCR and quantitatively by real-time PCR in comparison with the LM cell, a murine fibroblast line, and the 3T3-L1 cell, respectively. AP-18 cells were fibroblastoid in maintenance culture. After the confluence, fat droplets were accumulated in 50–60% of the cells cultured in the medium alone and in 70–90% of the cells cultured with insulin within 2 to 3 weeks. The fat accumulation was not promoted by the addition of dexamethazone, IBMX (3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine) or troglitazone in combination with insulin, which were obligatory for differentiation of the 3T3-L1 cell, a murine preadipocyte line. Throughout the differentiation, AP-18 cells expressed Pref-1, LPL, C/EBPβ, C/EBPδ, RXRα, C/EBPα, PPARγ, RXRγ, aP2, GLUT4, SCD1, UCP2, UCP3, TNFα, resistin, leptin, adiponectin and PAI-1 genes, but not the UCP1 gene, indicating that the cell is derived from WAT (white adipose tissue). The time course of these gene expressions was similar to that of 3T3-L1 cells, although the expressions were slower and lower in AP-18 cells. These data indicate that AP-18 cells are preadipocytes originated from WAT and differentiate into adipocytes under more physiological conditions than 3T3-L1 cells. AP-18 may be useful in adipocyte research.