Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become a predictive factor of death from many diseases. The purpose of the present study is to investigate the protective effect of glycyrrhizic acid (GA), a natural triterpene glycoside, on NAFLD induced by a high-fat diet (HFD) in mice, and further to elucidate the mechanisms underlying GA protection. GA treatment significantly reduced the relative liver weight, serum ALT, AST activities, levels of serum lipid, blood glucose and insulin. GA suppressed lipid accumulation in liver. Further mechanism investigation indicated that GA reduced hepatic lipogenesis via downregulating SREBP-1c, FAS and SCD1 expression, increased fatty acids β-oxidation via an increase in PPARα, CPT1α and ACADS, and promoted triglyceride metabolism through inducing LPL activity. Furthermore, GA reduced gluconeogenesis through repressing PEPCK and G6Pase, and increased glycogen synthesis through an induction in gene expression of PDase and GSK3β. In addition, GA increased insulin sensitivity through upregulating phosphorylation of IRS-1 and IRS-2. In conclusion, GA produces protective effect against NAFLD, due to regulation of genes involved in lipid, glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity.