BACKGROUND: In small mammals brown adipose tissue (BAT) plays a predominant role in regulating energy expenditure (EE) via adaptive thermogenesis. New-born babies require BAT to control their body temperature, however its relevance in adults has been questioned. Active BAT has recently been observed in adult humans, albeit in much lower relative quantities than small mammals. Comparing and contrasting the molecular mechanisms controlling BAT growth and development in mice and humans will increase our understanding or how human BAT is developed and may identify potential therapeutic targets to increase EE. MicroRNAs are molecular mechanisms involved in mouse BAT development however, little is known about the miRNA profile in human BAT. The aims of this study were to establish a mouse BAT-enriched miRNA profile and compare this with miRNAs measured in human BAT. To achieve this we firstly established a mouse BAT enriched-miRNA profile by comparing miRNAs expressed in mouse BAT, white adipose tissue and skeletal muscle. Following this the BAT-enriched miRNAs predicted to target genes potentially involved in growth and development were identified. METHODS: MiRNA levels were measured using PCR-based miRNA arrays. Results were analysed using ExpressionSuite software with the global mean expression value of all expressed miRNAs in a givensample used as the normalisation factor. Bio-informatic analyses was used to predict gene targets followed by Ingenuity Pathway Analysis. RESULTS: We identified 35 mouse BAT-enriched miRNAs that were predicted to target genes potentially involved in growth and development. We also identified 145 miRNAs expressed in both mouse and human BAT, of which 25 were enriched in mouse BAT. Of these 25 miRNAs, miR-20a was predicted to target MYF5 and PPARgamma, two important genes involved in brown adipogenesis, as well as BMP2 and BMPR2, genes involved in white adipogenesis. For the first time, 69 miRNAs were identified in human BAT but absent in mouse BAT, and 181 miRNAs were expressed in mouse but not in human BAT. CONCLUSION: The present study has identified a small sub-set of miRNAs common to both mouse and human BAT. From this sub-set bioinformatics analysis suggested a potential role of miR-20a in the control of cell fate and this warrants further investigation. The large number of miRNAs found only in mouse BAT or only in human BAT highlights the differing molecular profile between species that is likely to influence the functional role of BAT across species. Nevertheless the BAT-enriched miRNA profiles established in the present study suggest targets to investigate in the control BAT development and EE.