Brown adipose tissue uncoupling protein-1 (UCP1) plays a major role in the control of energy balance in rodents. It has long been thought, however, that there is no physiologically relevant UCP1 expression in adult humans. In this study we show, using an original approach consisting of sorting cells from various tissues and differentiating them in an adipogenic medium, that a stationary population of skeletal muscle cells expressing the CD34 surface protein can differentiate in vitro into genuine brown adipocytes with a high level of UCP1 expression and uncoupled respiration. These cells can be expanded in culture, and their UCP1 mRNA expression is strongly increased by cell-permeating cAMP derivatives and a peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPAR gamma) agonist. Furthermore, UCP1 mRNA was detected in the skeletal muscle of adult humans, and its expression was increased in vivo by PPAR gamma agonist treatment. All the studies concerning UCP1 expression in adult humans have until now been focused on the white adipose tissue. Here we show for the first time the existence in human skeletal muscle and the prospective isolation of progenitor cells with a high potential for UCP1 expression. The discovery of this reservoir generates a new hope of treating obesity by acting on energy dissipation.