Pasture feeding depresses adipose tissue development in beef cattle whereas grain feeding, enhances adipogenesis. Therefore, we hypothesized that specific fatty acids would differentially affect lipogenesis in explants of bovine subcutaneous (SC) and intramuscular (IM) adipose tissues. Angus steers were harvested at 12, 14, and 16 mo of age, and IM and SC adipose tissue explants from the 8-11th thoracic rib region were dissected and cultured in media. Media contained no supplemental fatty acids or 40 microM of five fatty acids, stearic acid (18:0), oleic acid (18:1 n-9), trans-11 vaccenic acid (18:1 trans-11), conjugated linoleic acid (CLA, 18:2 trans-10, cis-12), or alpha-linolenic acid (18:3 n-3). After 48 h of culture, lipogenesis using [U-14C]glucose and [1-14C]acetate was measured. Lipogenesis from glucose decreased between 12 and 16 mo of age in SC adipose tissue (from 8.9 to 4.0 nmol per 2 h per 100 mg; P = 0.001) and IM adipose tissue (from 4.4 to 2.7 nmol per 2 h 100 mg ; P = 0.08). Lipogenesis from acetate did not change over time in SC adipose (approximately 56 nmol per 2 h per 100 mg; P = 0.23), but increased over time in IM adipose tissue (from from 11.3 to 17.1 nmol per 2 h 100 mg; P = 0.02). Oleic acid increased lipid synthesis from glucose 125 percent (P = 0.04) in IM adipose tissue, whereas stearic acid and trans-vaccenic acid increased lipogenesis from glucose in SC adipose tissue by approximately 50 percent (P = 0.04). In SC adipose tissue only, trans-vaccenic and increased, lipogenesis from glucose (P < 0.02). Lipogenesis from acetate was depressed by CLA nearly 50 percent in SC adipose tissue. PPAR? gene expression increased between 14 and 16 mo of age in control IM and SC adipocytes. The increase in activity was also observed in AMPK gene expression. C/EBP? and SCD gene expression did not increase in control samples until 16 mo of age. SC adipose tissue responded to stearic acid by increased GPR43 and AMPK gene expression at 12 mo of age. We conclude that fatty acids differentially affect lipid synthesis in IM and SC adipose tissues, which may account for the effects of pasture and grain feeding on adiposity.