Hyperplasia of adipose tissue is critical for the development of obesity, but molecular mechanisms governing normal or pathological recruitment of new adipocytes remain unclear. The extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway plays a pivotal role in many essential cellular functions, such as proliferation and differentiation. Using ERK1(-/-) mice, we investigated the role of this isoform in adipose tissue development. Mice lacking ERK1 have decreased adiposity and fewer adipocytes than wild-type animals. Furthermore, ERK1(-/-) mice challenged with high-fat diet are resistant to obesity, are protected from insulin resistance, and have a higher postprandial metabolic rate. To get insights into cellular mechanisms implicated in reduced adiposity in ERK1(-/-) animals, we analyzed adipocyte differentiation in ERK1(-/-) cells. Compared with wild-type control cells, mouse embryo fibroblasts and cultures of adult preadipocytes isolated from ERK1(-/-) adult animals exhibit impaired adipogenesis. An inhibitor of the ERK pathway does not affect the residual adipogenesis of the ERK1(-/-) cells, suggesting that ERK2 is not implicated in adipocyte differentiation. Our results clearly link ERK1 to the regulation of adipocyte differentiation, adiposity, and high-fat diet-induced obesity. This suggests that a therapeutic approach of obesity targeting specifically the ERK1 isoform and not ERK2 would be of particular interest.