BACKGROUND: The recently identified circulating sCD36 has been proposed to reflect tissue CD36 expression, and is upregulated in case of obesity, insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis. The aim of this study was to explore the effect of weight loss secondary to bariatric surgery in relation to sCD36 among morbidly obese individuals. Furthermore, we investigated the levels of sCD36 in relation to obesity-related metabolic complications, low-grade inflammation and fat distribution. METHODS: Twenty morbidly obese individuals (body mass index (BMI) 43.0±5.4 kg m(-2)) with a referral to Roux-en-Y gastric bypass were included. Anthropometric measurements and fasting blood samples were collected at a preoperative baseline visit and 3 months after surgery. sCD36 was measured by an in-house assay, whereas insulin sensitivity and the hepatic fat accumulation were estimated by the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-%S) and liver fat percentage (LF%), respectively. RESULTS: Postoperatively, BMI was reduced by 20% to 34.3±5.2 kg m(-2) (P<0.001). sCD36 was reduced by 31% (P=0.001) and improvements were observed in the amount of fat mass (P<0.001), truncal fat mass (P<0.001), circulating triglycerides (P=0.001), HOMA-%S (P=0.007), LF% (P=0.001) and the inflammatory marker high-sensitive C-reactive protein (P=0.005). sCD36 correlated with triglycerides (ρ=0.523, P=0.001) and truncal fat mass (ρ=0.357, P=0.026), and triglycerides were found to be an independent predictor of sCD36. At baseline, participants with the metabolic syndrome had a higher LF% and higher levels of the inflammatory biomarker YKL-40 (P=0.003 and P=0.014) as well as a tendency towards higher levels of sCD36. CONCLUSION: sCD36 was reduced by weight loss and associated with an unhealthy fat accumulation and circulating triglycerides, which support the proposed role of sCD36 as a biochemical marker of obesity-related metabolic complications and risks.