Both monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), a member of chemokine family, and angiotensinogen, a precursor of angiotensin (ANG) II, are produced by adipose tissue and increased in obese state. MCP-1 has been shown to decrease insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and several adipogenic genes expression in adipocytes in vitro, suggesting its pathophysiological significance in obesity. However, the pathophysiological interaction between MCP-1 and ANG II in adipose tissue remains unknown. The present study was undertaken to investigate the potential mechanisms by which ANG II affects MCP-1 gene expression in rat primary cultured preadipocytes and adipose tissue in vivo. ANG II significantly increased steady-state MCP-1 mRNA levels in a time- and dose-dependent manner. The ANG II-induced MCP-1 mRNA and protein expression was completely abolished by ANG II type 1 (AT1)-receptor antagonist (valsartan). An antioxidant/NF-kappaB inhibitor (pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate) and an inhibitor of 1kappaB-alpha phosphorylation (Bay 11-7085) also blocked ANG II-induced MCP-1 mRNA expression. ANG II induced translocation of NF-kappaB p65 subunit from cytoplasm to nucleus by immunocytochemical study. Luciferase assay using reporter constructs containing MCP-1 promoter region revealed that two NF-kappaB binding sites in its enhancer region were essential for the ANG II-induced promoter activities. Furthermore, basal mRNA and protein of MCP-1 during preadipocyte differentiation were significantly greater in preadipocytes than in differentiated adipocytes, whose effect was more pronounced in the presence of ANG II. Exogenous administration of ANG II to rats led to increased MCP-1 expression in epididymal, subcutaneous, and mesenteric adipose tissue. In conclusion, our present study demonstrates that ANG II increases MCP-1 gene expression via ANG II type 1 receptor-mediated and NF-kappaB-dependent pathway in rat preadipocytes as well as adipose MCP-1 expression in vivo. Thus the augmented MCP-1 expression by ANG II in preadipocytes may provide a new link between obesity and cardiovascular disease.