Abstract Adipocyte differentiation is a complex process regulated among other factors by insulin and the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). NOX4 is a ROS generating NADPH oxidase enzyme mediating insulin′s action in 3T3L1 adipocytes. In the present paper we show that NOX4 is expressed at high levels both in white and brown preadipocytes and that differentiation into adipocytes results in a decrease in their NOX4 mRNA content. These in vitro results were confirmed in vivo by demonstrating that in intact adipose tissue the majority of NOX4 expressing cells are localized within the preadipocyte containing stromal/vascular fraction, rather than in the portion consisting of mature adipocytes. In line with these observations, quantification of NOX4 mRNA in fat derived from different rodent models of insulin resistance indicated that alteration in NOX4 expression reflects changes in the ratio of adipocyte/interstitial fractions. In conclusion, we reveal that decreased NOX4 mRNA content is a hallmark of adipocyte differentiation and that NOX4 expression measured in whole adipose tissue is not an unequivocal indicator of intact or impaired insulin action.