Premature infants have chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) that increases morbidity, and the youngest and the smallest premature infants are at the greatest risk. The combination of lung injury from inflammation/oxidative stress causing low functional residual capacity combined with frequent short apneas leads to CIH. Adiponectin (APN) is an adipose-derived adipokine that protects the lung from inflammation and oxidative stress. Premature and small for gestational age (SGA) infants have minimal body fat and low levels of circulating APN. To begin to understand the potential role of APN in lung protection during lung development, we characterized the developmental profile of APN and APN receptors (AdipoR1 and AdipoR2) protein and mRNA expression in the newborn rat lung at fetal day (FD) 19, and postnatal days (PD) 1, 4, 7, 10, 14, 21, and 28. Protein levels in lung homogenates were measured by western blot analyses; relative mRNA expression was detected by quantitative PCR (qPCR); and serum high molecular weight (HMW) APN was measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Results: APN protein and mRNA levels were lowest at FD19 and PD1, increased 2.2-fold at PD4, decreased at PD10, and then increased again at PD21. AdipoR1 protein and mRNA levels peaked at PD1, followed by a threefold drop by PD4, and remained low until PD21. AdipoR2 protein and mRNA levels also peaked at PD1, but remained high at PD4, followed by a 1.7-fold drop by PD10 that remained low by PD21. Serum APN levels detected by ELISA did not differ from PD4 to PD28. To date, this is the first report characterizing APN and APN receptor protein and mRNA expression in the rat lung during development. The developmental stage of the newborn rat lung models that of the premature human infant; both are in the saccular stage of lung development. In the newborn rat lung, alveolarization begins at PD4, peaks at PD10, and ends at PD21. Importantly, we found that AdipoR1 receptor protein and mRNA expression is lowest during lung alveolarization (PD4 to PD21). Thus, we speculate that low levels of AdipoR1 during lung alveolarization contributes to the increased susceptibility to developing acute lung edema and chronic lung injury such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) in premature human infants.