Thiazolidinediones (TZDs) are insulin sensitizing drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes. The primary target of the TZDs is the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) gamma, a key regulator of adipogenesis and glucose homeostasis. Currently prescribed TZDs are full PPARgamma agonists, and their use is associated with several side effects. Partial PPARgamma agonists appear to be associated with fewer side effects but may still confer the desired insulin sensitizing action. Extracts from common medicinal/food plants were tested in a screening platform comprising a series of bioassays, including tests for PPARgamma, alpha and delta transactivation, adipocyte differentiation and insulin-stimulated glucose uptake, allowing identification of plants containing potentially interesting PPAR agonists. Twenty-two plant extracts out of 133 were found to increase insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and 18 extracts were found to activate PPARgamma, 3 to activate PPARalpha and gamma, 6 to activate PPARdelta and gamma, and 9 to activate PPARgamma, alpha and delta. Among the 24 different plant species tested in the platform, 50% were shown to contain compounds capable of activating PPARgamma and stimulating insulin-dependent glucose uptake with no or little effect on adipocyte differentiation warranting further studies and characterization. Copyright (c) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.