AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: In the present study, we investigated the consequences of adipose tissue lipolytic inhibition on skeletal muscle substrate use in type 2 diabetic patients. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We studied ten type 2 diabetic patients under the following conditions: (1) at rest; (2) during 60 min of cycling exercise at 50% of maximal workload capacity and subsequent recovery. Studies were done under normal, fasting conditions (control trial: CON) and following administration of a nicotinic acid analogue (low plasma non-esterified fatty acid trial: LFA). Continuous [U-(13)C]palmitate and [6,6 -(2)H(2)]glucose infusions were applied to quantify plasma NEFA and glucose oxidation rates, and to estimate intramuscular triacylglycerol (IMTG) and glycogen use. Muscle biopsies were collected before and after exercise to determine net changes in lipid and glycogen content specific to muscle fibre type. RESULTS: Following administration of the nicotinic acid analogue (Acipimox), the plasma NEFA rate of appearance was effectively reduced, resulting in lower NEFA concentrations in the LFA trial (p<0.001). Plasma NEFA oxidation rates were substantially reduced at rest, during exercise and subsequent recovery in the LFA trial. The lower plasma NEFA oxidation rates were compensated by an increase in IMTG and endogenous carbohydrate use (p<0.05). Plasma glucose disposal rates did not differ between trials. In accordance with the tracer data, a greater net decline in type I muscle fibre lipid content was observed following exercise in the LFA trial (p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: This study shows that plasma NEFA availability regulates IMTG use, and that adipose tissue lipolytic inhibition, in combination with exercise, could be an effective means of augmenting intramuscular lipid and glycogen use in type 2 diabetic patients in an overnight fasted state.