AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: Obesity is strongly associated with the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The cytokine osteopontin (OPN) was recently shown to be involved in obesity-induced adipose tissue inflammation and reduced insulin response. Accumulating evidence links OPN to the pathogenesis of NAFLD. Here we aimed to identify the role of OPN in obesity-associated hepatic steatosis and impaired hepatic glucose metabolism. METHODS: Wild-type (WT) and Opn (also known as Spp1) knockout (Opn (-/-)) mice were fed a high-fat or low-fat diet to study OPN effects in obesity-driven hepatic alterations. RESULTS: We show that genetic OPN deficiency protected from obesity-induced hepatic steatosis, at least in part, by downregulating hepatic triacylglycerol synthesis. Conversely, absence of OPN promoted fat storage in adipose tissue thereby preventing the obesity-induced shift to ectopic fat accumulation in the liver. Euglycaemic-hyperinsulinaemic clamp studies revealed that insulin resistance and excess hepatic glucose production in obesity were significantly attenuated in Opn (-/-) mice. OPN deficiency markedly improved hepatic insulin signalling as shown by enhanced insulin receptor substrate-2 phosphorylation and prevented upregulation of the major hepatic transcription factor Forkhead box O1 and its gluconeogenic target genes. In addition, obesity-driven hepatic inflammation and macrophage accumulation was blocked by OPN deficiency. CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: Our data strongly emphasise OPN as mediator of obesity-associated hepatic alterations including steatosis, inflammation, insulin resistance and excess gluconeogenesis. Targeting OPN action could therefore provide a novel therapeutic strategy to prevent obesity-related complications such as NAFLD and type 2 diabetes.