Altered macrophage kinetics is a pivotal mechanism of visceral obesity-induced inflammation and cardiometabolic risk. Because monocytes can differentiate into either proatherogenic M1 macrophages or anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages, approaches that limit M1 while promoting M2 differentiation represent a unique therapeutic strategy. We hypothesized that adiponectin may prime human monocytes toward the M2 phenotype. Adiponectin promoted the alternative activation of human monocytes into anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages as opposed to the classically activated M1 phenotype. Adiponectin-treated cells displayed increased M2 markers, including the mannose receptor (MR) and alternative macrophage activation-associated CC chemokine-1. Incubation of M1 macrophages with adiponectin-treated M2-derived culture supernatant resulted in a pronounced inhibition of tumor necrosis factor-α and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 secretion. Activation of human monocytes into M2 macrophages by adiponectin was mediated, in addition to AMP-activated protein kinase and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-γ, via PPAR-α. Furthermore, macrophages isolated from adiponectin knockout mice demonstrated diminished levels of M2 markers such as MR, which were restored with adiponectin treatment. We report a novel immunoregulatory mechanism through which adiponectin primes human monocyte differentiation into anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages. Conditions associated with low adiponectin levels, such as visceral obesity and insulin resistance, may promote atherosclerosis, in part through aberrant macrophage kinetics.