Here we have investigated the role of the protein caveolin 1 (Cav1) and caveolae in the secretion of the white adipocyte hormone adiponectin. Using mouse primary subcutaneous adipocytes genetically depleted of Cav1, we show that the adiponectin secretion, stimulated either adrenergically or by insulin, is abrogated while basal (unstimulated) release of adiponectin is elevated. Adiponectin secretion is similarly affected in wildtype mouse and human adipocytes where the caveolae structure was chemically disrupted. The altered ex vivo secretion in adipocytes isolated from Cav1 null mice is accompanied by lowered serum levels of the high-molecular weight (HMW) form of adiponectin, whereas the total concentration of adiponectin is unaltered. Interestingly, levels of HMW adiponectin are maintained in adipose tissue from Cav1-depleted mice, signifying that a secretory defect is present. The gene expression of key regulatory proteins known to be involved in cAMP/adrenergically triggered adiponectin exocytosis (the beta-3-adrenergic receptor and exchange protein directly activated by cAMP) remains intact in Cav1 null adipocytes. Microscopy and fractionation studies indicate that adiponectin vesicles do not co-localise with Cav1 but that some vesicles are associated with a specific fraction of caveolae. Our studies propose that Cav1 has an important role in secretion of HMW adiponectin, even though adiponectin-containing vesicles are not obviously associated with this protein. We suggest that Cav1, and/or the caveolae domain, is essential for the organisation of signalling pathways involved in the regulation of HMW adiponectin exocytosis, a function that is disrupted in Cav1/caveolae-depleted adipocytes.