[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatic steatosis is generally thought to develop via peripheral mechanisms associated with obesity. We show that chronic central infusion of leptin suppresses hepatic lipogenic gene expression and reduces triglyceride content via stimulation of hepatic sympathetic activity. This leptin function is independent of feeding and body weight but requires phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling. Attenuation of leptin-induced PI3K signaling, brought about by transgenic expression of phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) in leptin receptor neurons, leads to decreased hepatic sympathetic tone and increased triglyceride levels without affecting adiposity or hepatic insulin signaling. Central leptin's effects on hepatic norepinephrine levels and triglyceride content are blunted in these mutant mice. Simultaneous downregulation of PI3K and signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (Stat3) in leptin receptor neurons does not exacerbate obesity but causes more severe hepatic steatosis. Together, our results indicate that central cellular leptin resistance in PI3K signaling manifests as hepatic steatosis without causing obesity.