In obesity, the development of cardiomyopathy is associated with the accumulation of myocardial triacylglycerols (TAGs), possibly stemming from elevation of myocardial long-chain fatty acid (LCFA) uptake. Because LCFA uptake is regulated by insulin and contractions, we examined in cardiac myocytes from lean and obese Zucker rats the effects of insulin and the contraction-mimetic agent oligomycin on the initial rate of LCFA uptake, subcellular distribution of FAT/CD36, and LCFA metabolism. In cardiac myocytes from obese Zucker rats, under basal conditions, FAT/CD36 was relocated to the sarcolemma at the expense of intracellular stores. In addition, the LCFA uptake rate, LCFA esterification rate into TAGs, and the intracellular unesterified LCFA concentration each were significantly increased. All these metabolic processes were normalized by the FAT/CD36 inhibitor sulfo-N-succinimidyloleate, indicating its antidiabetic potential. In cardiac myocytes isolated from lean rats, in vitro administration of insulin induced the translocation of FAT/CD36 to the sarcolemma and stimulated initial rates of LCFA uptake and TAG esterification. In contrast, in myocytes from obese rats, insulin failed to alter the subcellular localization of FAT/CD36 and the rates of LCFA uptake and TAG esterification. In cardiac myocytes from lean and obese animals, oligomycin stimulated the initial rates of LCFA uptake and oxidation, although oligomycin only induced the translocation of FAT/CD36 to the sarcolemma in lean rats. The present results indicate that in cardiac myocytes from obese Zucker rats, a permanent relocation of FAT/CD36 to the sarcolemma is responsible for myocardial TAG accumulation. Furthermore, in vitro these cardiac myocytes, although sensitive to contraction-like stimulation, were completely insensitive to insulin, as the basal conditions in hyperinsulinemic, obese animals resemble the insulin-stimulated condition in lean littermates.