Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a presumed autoimmune disease directed against central nervous system (CNS) myelin, in which diet and obesity are implicated as risk factors. Immune responses can be influenced by molecules produced by fat cells, called adipokines. Adiponectin is an adipokine with anti-inflammatory effects. We tested the hypothesis that adiponectin has a protective role in the EAE model for MS, that can be induced by immunization with myelin antigens or transfer of myelin-specific T lymphocytes. Adiponectin deficient (ADPKO) mice developed worse EAE with greater CNS inflammation, demyelination, and axon injury. Lymphocytes from myelin-immunized ADPKO mice proliferated more, produced higher amounts of IFN-γ, IL-17, TNF-α, IL-6, and transferred more severe EAE than wild type (WT) lymphocytes. At EAE peak, the spleen and CNS of ADPKO had fewer regulatory T (Treg) cells than WT mice and during EAE recovery, Foxp3, IL-10 and TGF-β expression levels in the CNS were reduced in ADPKO compared with WT mice. Treatment with globular adiponectin in vivo ameliorated EAE, and was associated with an increase in Treg cells. These data indicate that adiponectin is an important regulator of T-cell functions during EAE, suggesting a new avenue of investigation for MS treatment. © 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.