Background Leptin-deficient ob/ob mice exhibit adipocyte hypertrophy and hyperplasia as well as elevated adipose tissue and systemic inflammation. Multipotent stem cells isolated from adult adipose tissue can differentiate into adipocytes ex vivo and thereby contribute toward increased adipocyte cell numbers, obesity, and inflamm ation. Currently, information is lacking regarding regulation of adipose stem cell numbers as well as leptin-induced inflammation and its signaling pathway in ob/ob mice. Methods Using leptin deficient ob/ob mice, we investigated whether leptin injection into ob/ob mice increases adipose stem cell numbers and adipose tissue inflammatory marker MCP-1 mRNA and secretion levels. We also determined leptin mediated signaling pathways in the adipose stem cells. Results We report here that adipose stem cell number is significantly increased following leptin injection in ob/ob mice and with treatment of isolated stem cells with leptin in vitro. Leptin also up-regulated MCP-1 secretion in a dose- and time-dependent manner. We further showed that increased MCP-1 mRNA levels were due to increased phosphorylation of Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (STAT3) Ser727 but not STAT3 Tyr705 phosphorylation, suggesting differential regulation of MCP-1 gene expression under basal and leptin-stimulated conditions in adipose stem cells. Conclusions Taken together, these studies demonstrate that leptin increases adipose stem cell number and differentially activates STAT3 protein resulting in up-regulation of MCP-1 gene expression. Further studies of mechanisms mediating adipose stem cell hyperplasia and leptin signaling in obesity are warranted and may help identify novel anti-obesity target strategies.