BACKGROUND: Dysfunctional lipid metabolism is a hallmark of obesity and insulin resistance and a risk factor for various cardiovascular and metabolic complications. In addition to the well known increase in plasma triglycerides and free fatty acids, recent work in humans and rodents has shown that obesity is associated with elevations in the bioactive class of sphingolipids known as ceramides. However, in obesity little is known about the plasma concentrations of sphinogsine-1-phosphate (S1P), the breakdown product of ceramide, which is an important signaling molecule in mammalian biology. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the impact of obesity on circulating S1P concentration and its relationship with markers of glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Plasma S1P levels were determined in high-fat diet (HFD)-induced and genetically obese (ob/ob) mice along with obese humans. Circulating S1P was elevated in both obese mouse models and in obese humans compared with lean healthy controls. Furthermore, in humans, plasma S1P positively correlated with total body fat percentage, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, fasting insulin, HOMA-IR, HbA1c ( ), total and LDL cholesterol. In addition, fasting increased plasma S1P levels in lean healthy mice. CONCLUSION: We show that elevations in plasma S1P are a feature of both human and rodent obesity and correlate with metabolic abnormalities such as adiposity and insulin resistance.