OBJECTIVE : Obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus, correlate with increased tissue concentration of sphingolipids, which directly interfere with insulin signaling pathway. Phytoestrogens are a group of plant-derived compounds that have been studied in the case of metabolic disorders treatment. Therefore, the aim of this study was to ascertain whether enterolactone (ENL), a commonly known phytoestrogen, may affect sphingolipid metabolism and decrease hepatic insulin resistance development in a lipid overload state. METHODS : The study was conducted on HepG2 cells incubated with ENL and/or palmitic acid (PA) for 16 h. Intra- and extracellular sphingolipid concentrations were assessed by high performance liquid chromatography. The expression of sphingolipid pathway enzymes, apoptosis and insulin signaling pathway proteins and glucose metabolism regulators were evaluated by Western Blot. RESULTS : In HepG2 cells, a considerable augmentation of intracellular ceramide and sphingosine concentration in ENL with PA group were indicated with simultaneous increase in extracellular ceramide concentration. The ENL treatment increased expression of selected enzymes from de novo ceramide synthesis pathway with lower expression of ceramide transfer protein. We also observed a decreased expression of insulin-stimulated phosphorylation of AKT and AMPK after exposure to ENL with PA. Our research demonstrated that ENL with PA resulted in an increased expression of caspase-3. CONCLUSIONS : Enterolactone, in a higher fatty acids availability, led to the development of hepatic IR in HepG2 cells. This phenomenon may be the result of elevated intracellular ceramide accumulation caused by increased de novo synthesis pathway what led to enhanced apoptosis of HepG2 cells.