Increasing evidence has been provided for a connection between retinoid metabolism and the activity of peroxisome proliferator receptors (Ppars) in the control of body fat reserves. Two different precursors for retinoids exist in the diet as preformed vitamin A (all-trans-retinol) and provitamin A (β,β-carotene). For retinoid production, β,β-carotene is converted to retinaldehyde by β,β-carotene monooxygenase 1 (Bcmo1). Previous analysis showed that Bcmo1 knock-out mice develop dyslipidemia and are more susceptible to diet-induced obesity. However, the role of Bcmo1 for adipocyte retinoid metabolism has yet not been well defined. Here, we showed that Bcmo1 mRNA and protein expression are induced during adipogenesis in NIH 3T3-L1 cells. In mature adipocytes, β,β-carotene but not all-trans-retinol was metabolized to retinoic acid (RA). RA decreased the expression of Pparγand CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein α, key lipogenic transcription factors, and reduced the lipid content of mature adipocytes. This process was inhibited by the retinoic acid receptor antagonist LE450, showing that it involves canonical retinoid signaling. Accordingly, gavage of β,β-carotene but not all-trans-retinol induced retinoid signaling and decreased Pparγexpression in white adipose tissue of vitamin A-deficient mice. Our study identifies β,β-carotene as a critical physiological precursor for RA production in adipocytes and implicates provitamin A as a dietary regulator of body fat reserves.