The objective was to study changes in plasma leptin concentration parallel to changes in the gene expression of lipogenic- and lipolytic-related genes in adipose tissue of dairy cows around parturition. Subcutaneous fat biopsies were taken from 27 dairy cows in week 8 antepartum (a.p.), on day 1 postpartum (p.p.) and in week 5 p.p. Blood samples were assayed for concentrations of leptin and non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA). Subcutaneous adipose tissue was analysed for mRNA abundance by real-time qRT-PCR encoding for leptin, adiponectin receptor 1 (AdipoR1), adiponectin receptor 2 (AdipoR2), hormones-sensitive lipase (HSL), perilipin (PLIN), lipoprotein lipase (LPL), acyl-CoA synthase long-chain family member 1 (ACSL1), acetyl-CoA carboxlyase (ACC), fatty acid synthase (FASN) and glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase 2 (GPD2). Body weight and body condition score of the cows were lower after parturition than before parturition. The calculated energy balance was negative in week 1 and 5 p.p., with higher negative energy balance in week 1 p.p. compared with that in week 5 p.p. On day 1 p.p., highest concentrations of NEFA (353.3 μmol/l) were detected compared with the other biopsy time-points (210.6 and 107.7 μmol/l, in week 8 a.p., and week 5 p.p. respectively). Reduced plasma concentrations of leptin during p.p. when compared with a.p. would favour increasing metabolic efficiency and energy conservation for mammary function and reconstitution of body reserves. Lower mRNA abundance of ACC and FASN expression on day 1 p.p. compared with other biopsy time-points suggests an attenuation of fatty acid synthesis in subcutaneous adipose tissue shortly after parturition. Gene expression of AdipoR1, AdipoR2, HSL, PLIN, LPL, ACSL1 and GPD2 was unchanged over time.