The increase in the mass of adipose tissue during the development of obesity can arise through an increase in cell size, an increase in cell number, or both. Here we show that long term maintenance of C57BL/6 mice on a high fat diet (for ∼25 weeks) induces an initial increase in adipocyte size followed by an increase in adipocyte number in white adipose tissue. The latter effect was found to be accompanied by up-regulation of expression of the gene for the F-box protein Skp2 as well as by down-regulation of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27Kip1, a principal target of the SCFSkp2 ubiquitin ligase, in white adipose tissue. Ablation of Skp2 protected mice from the development of obesity induced either by a high fat diet or by the lethal yellow agouti (Ay) mutation, and this protective action was due to inhibition of the increase in adipocyte number without an effect on adipocyte hypertrophy. The reduction in the number of adipocyte caused by Skp2 ablation also inhibited the development of obesity-related insulin resistance in the Ay mutant mice, although the reduced number of β cells and reduced level of insulin secretion in Skp2-deficient mice resulted in glucose intolerance. Our observations thus indicate that Skp2 controls adipocyte proliferation during the development of obesity.