Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is a metabolic hormone having anti-oxidative and anti-hypertrophic effects. However, the regulation of FGF21 expression during acute myocardial infarction (AMI) remains unclear. We tested blood samples from 50 patients with AMI and 43 patients with stable angina pectoris (sAP) for FGF21, fatty acid binding protein 4 (FABP4), a protein secreted from adipocytes in response to adrenergic lipolytic signal, and total and individual fatty acids. Compared with sAP patients, AMI patients had higher serum FGF21 levels on admission, which were significantly correlated with peak FABP4 and saturated fatty acids (SFAs) but not with peak levels of cardiac troponin T. In mice, myocardial ischemia rapidly induced FGF21 production by the heart, which accompanied activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)-dependent pathway. Like AICAR, an activator of AMPK, catecholamines (norepinephrine and isoproterenol) and SFAs (palmitate and stearate) significantly increased FGF21 production and release by cardiac myocytes via AMPK activation. Recombinant FGF21 induced its own expression as well as members of down-stream targets of AMPK involved in metabolic homeostasis and mitochondrial biogenesis in cardiac myocytes. These findings suggest that adrenergic overdrive and resultant adipose tissue lipolysis induce cardiac AMPK-FGF21 feed-forward loop that potentially provides cardioprotection against ischemic damage.