Dehydroleucodine (DhL) is a sesquiterpene lactone of the guaianolide group with gastric cytoprotective activity. Recent studies have also demonstrated that DhL inhibits the proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells. In this study we examined the effect of DhL in the differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes. The addition of DhL significantly inhibited the differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes along with a significant decrease in the accumulation of lipid content by a dramatic downregulation of the expression of adipogenic-specific transcriptional factors PPARγ and C-EBPα. However, phosphorylation of AMPKα, Erk1/2 and Akt1 was not inhibited by DhL treatment. Interestingly, we also found that 11,13-dihydrodehydroleucodine, a derivative of DhL with inactivated α-methylene-γ-lactone function, also inhibited the differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes. Taken together, these data suggest that DhL has an important inhibitory effect in cellular pathways regulating adipocyte differentiation by modulating the PPARγ expression, which is known to play a pivotal role during adipogenesis.