BACKGROUND/AIMS: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) comprises a large part of chronic liver diseases. Recently it was reported that adipokines are closely associated with the common risk factors for NAFLD, such as obesity, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and insulin resistance. We aimed to evaluate the changes in serum adiponectin, resistin and leptin concentrations related to alanine aminotransferase (ALT) elevations in Korean men with NAFLD. METHODS: We studies 38 men who were diagnosed with fatty liver by abdominal ultrasonography. None had a history of excessive alcohol consumption, autoimmune hepatitis, inherited or metabolic liver disease or viral hepatitis. The subjects were divided into two groups. One group had normal levels of ALT (n=28) and the other had increased ALT (n=10). We compared anthropometrical parameters, biochemical items and serum adipokine levels between these two groups. RESULTS: Serum adiponectin levels were lower in the increased ALT group than in the normal ALT group (3.89 +/- 1.77 vs 7.01 +/- 2.54 microgram/dL, P=0.001). But there were no significant differences in serum leptin and resistin levels between two groups (4.02 +/- 2.04 vs 3.26 +/- 1.41 ng/mL, p=0.245, 80.14 +/- 14.8 vs 80.5 +/- 11.34 ng/mL, P=0.937, respectively). Multiple linear regression analyses demonstrated that the serum adiponectin level is inversely correlated with serum ALT level and that the serum aspartate aminotransferase (AST) level is positively correlated with the serum ALT level. CONCLUSIONS: Our study shows that hypoadiponectinemia is associated with an ALT elevation in patients with NAFLD. Adiponectin may play an indirect role in the development of NAFLD.