The phosphodiesterase (PDE) activity, the basal rate of lipolysis and the basal cyclic AMP level in adipose tissue were determined in hypogastric and gluteal specimens obtained from 14 obese healthy subjects before and after one week of starvation. During starvation there was a significant increase in both the tissue level of cyclic AMP and the rate of lipolysis, whereas the apparent values of Vmax of the low and high Km forms of PDE decreased significantly-i.e. by about 50 and 30 percent. respectively. The substrate concentration of cyclic AMP at Vmax of the low Km PDE corresponded to the tissue level of the nucleotide. During, but not before, starvation there was a positive correlation between Vmax of the low Km PDE and the cyclic AMP level (r = 0.7-0.8). The metabolism in the tissues from the two fat depots exhibited similar variations during starvation. The findings suggest that the low Km form of PDE is inhibited during starvation. This may be one factor responsible for the starvation-mediated increase in the cyclic AMP levels and the rate of lipolysis in adipose tissue.