Background and aims: Pro-inflammatory molecules produced by adipose tissue have been implicated in the risk of cardiovascular (CV) disease in obesity. We investigated the expression profile of 19 pro-inflammatory and seven anti-inflammatory genes in subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) and in visceral adipose tissue (VAT) in 44 severely obese individuals who underwent bariatric surgery. Methods and results: SAT and VAT expressed an identical series of pro-inflammatory genes. Among these genes, 12 were significantly more expressed in SAT than in VAT while just one (IL18) was more expressed in VAT. The remaining genes were equally expressed. Among pro-inflammatory cytokines, both IL6 and IL8 were about 20 times more intensively expressed in SAT than in VAT. The expression of nine genes was highly associated in SAT and VAT. Only for three pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL8, IL18, SAA1) in SAT the gene expression in adipose tissue associated with the circulating levels of the corresponding gene products while no such an association was found as for VAT. Conclusions: The expression of critical pro-inflammatory genes is substantially higher in SAT than in VAT in individuals with morbid obesity. The variability in circulating levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines is, in small part and just for three pro-inflammatory cytokines, explained by underlying gene expression in SAT but not in VAT. These results point to a compartment-specific adipose tissue contribution to inflammation in obesity and indicate that abdominal SAT contributes more than VAT to the pro-inflammatory milieu associated with severe obesity. (C) 2014 Elsevier B. V. All rights reserved.