• Product name

    Oil Red O Stain Kit (Lipid Stain)
    See all Lipids kits
  • Product overview

    Oil Red O (Lipid Stain) kit is intended for use in the histological visualization of fat cells and neutral fat. This kit may be used ONLY on frozen tissue sections, fresh smears, or touch preps. 

    If you prefer to prepare your own Oil Red O solution, we recommend our solid Oil Red O stain ab146295.

    Oil Red O staining protocol summary:
    - prepare fresh or frozen tissue sections
    - incubate slide in propylene glycol for 2 min
    - incubate slide in oil red o solution for 6 min
    - differentiate section in 85% propylene glycol for 1 min
    - rinse slide twice in water
    - incubate in hematoxylin for 1-2 min
    - rinse slide three times in water
    - coverslip with an aqueous mounting medium

    Other products for staining tissue sections

    Find more kits and reagents in the special stains guide, or products for antigen retrieval, blocking, signal amplification, visualization, counterstaining, and mounting in the IHC kits and reagents guide.

  • Notes

    Oil Red O is a fat-soluble dye that stains neutral triglycerides and lipids. It cannot be used with formaldehyde-fixed paraffin embedded sections as the alcohols used remove most lipids.

    Staining Interpretation

    Fat Cells   Red
    Neutral Fat     Red
    Nuclei Blue

    Control Tissue: Any frozen section containing fat.



  • ab150678 Oil Red O Stain Kit (Lipid Stain) staining frozen human human adipose.

  • ab150678 (Oil Red O stain) staining lipid deposits (red) in frozen normal human skin. The dermis is unstained, whereas the hypodermis is stained, demonstrating dye specificity. Hematoxylin (blue) is used as a counterstain.  

    *Tissue obtained from the Human Research Tissue Bank, supported by the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre.

  • Oil Red O staining of 3T3-L1 and adipocyte-like cells

    During adipocyte differentiation, cells accumulate lipid. Oil Red O staining kit (ab150678) was used to visualize lipid in 3T3-L1 cells (left) and adipocyte-like cells (right). As expected, lipid accumulates in 3T3-L1 cells after differentiation into adipocyte-like cells.

  • Staining of Frozen Breast Tissue using ab150678 - Oil Red O Stain Kit.



This product has been referenced in:

  • Chernyshova MP  et al. Systemic and skin-targeting beneficial effects of lycopene-enriched ice cream: A pilot study. J Dairy Sci 102:14-25 (2019). Read more (PubMed: 30447975) »
  • Kaufman S  et al. Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery reprograms enterocyte triglyceride metabolism and postprandial secretion in rats. Mol Metab 23:51-59 (2019). Read more (PubMed: 30905616) »
See all 18 Publications for this product

Customer reviews and Q&As

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Pig fat stain

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veryt good and so fast! it works well and method is so quick

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Submitted Jun 27 2019


This reference contains a protocol for staining cultured cells with Oil Red O.

Hope R. G., McLauchlan J. (2000) J. Gen. Virol. 81:1913–1925.


The following protocol is adapted from the protocol in the paper and uses the ab150678 reagents. You will need paraformaldehyde (PFA). Do not use methanol or acetone for the fixation as they will solubilize the lipid, and do not use formalin instead of PFA as it contains up to 15% methanol.

Adipocyte Detection

1. Prepare solutions and buffers

2. Wash the cells

Take the cells from the incubator and carefully aspirate the medium. Carefully wash the cells with Dulbecco’s PBS, w/o Ca++/ Mg++ .

Note: Do not disrupt the cell monolayer!

3. Fixation of the cells

Carefully aspirate the PBS and transfer the tissue culture dish to a fume hood. Add enough 4% PFA to cover the cell monolayer. Incubate at room temperature for at least 10-20 min.

4. Prepare Oil Red O staining solution

5. Wash the cells

Carefully aspirate the fixation buffer and wash the cell monolayer with distilled water. Carefully aspirate the water and add enough Propylene glycol (85%) to cover the cell monolayer. Incubate at room temperature for 2 min.

6. Add Oil Red O staining solution

Carefully aspirate propylene glycol and add enough Oil Red O staining solution to cover the cell monolayer. Incubate at room temperature for 5-15 min.

7. Wash the cells

Carefully aspirate the Oil Red O staining solution and add propylene glycol for 5 mins.

Aspirate propylene glycol and wash the cell monolayer several times with distilled water until the water becomes clear. Blot the vessel containing the stained cells up side down on a paper towel to remove as much water as possible.

8. Counterstain the cells

Add enough Hematoxylin solution to cover the cellular monolayer. Incubate at room temperature for 1-2 min.

9. Wash the cells

Aspirate the Hematoxylin solution and wash the cell monolayer several times with distilled water until the water becomes clear. Aspirate the water.

10. Analyze the cells

Intracellular lipid vesicles in mature adipocytes stain bright red, whereas the Hematoxylin stained nuclei appear blue-violet.

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I am sorry to confirm that we do not know if our Oil Red O solution will work for live adipocytes. We do not have a protocol or data for this and most of the protocols I have found require alcoholic solutions (ab150678 does not) and a fixation step (also not included in ab150678) for live cells. Below is a link to publications that may shed some light on the matter, also an example protocol is provided.



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