To investigate the anti-obesity activity and the action mechanism of the roots of Adenophora triphylla var. japonica extract (ATE) in high-fat diet (HFD)-induced obese mice and 3T3-L1 adipocytes. The roots of Adenophora triphylla were extracted with 70% ethanol. To demonstrate the compounds, linoleic acid was analyzed by using gas chromatography; and the anti-obesity effects and possible mechanisms of ATE were examined in 3T3-L1 adipocytes and HFD-induced obese mice. Treatment with ATE inhibited the lipid accumulation without cytotoxicity in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Furthermore, 200 and 400 mg/kg ATE treatment significantly decreased the body weight gain, white adipose tissues (WATs) weight and plasma triglyceride level, while 100 and 200 mg/kg ATE treatment increased the plasma high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level in the HFD-induced obese mice, as compared with the HFD group. Treatment with 200 and 400 mg/kg ATE also lowered the size of adipocytes in adipose tissue and reduced the lipid accumulation in liver. ATE treatment showed significantly lower expression level of adipogenesis-related proteins, such as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ, fatty acid binding protein (aP2), fatty acid synthase in 3T3-L1 adipocytes; and furthermore, decreased peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ, aP2, fatty acid synthase, sterol regulatory element binding protein-1c, and lipoprotein lipase mRNA expression levels in WAT of the HFD-induced obese mice. These results suggested that the ATE has an anti-obesity effect, which may be elicited by regulating the expression of adipogenesis and lipogenesis-related genes and proteins in adipocytes and WAT of the HFD-induced obese mice.