The objective of the present study was to investigate the effect of dietary phytate and microbial phytase on the lipase activity, lipid metabolism and mRNA expressions of fatty acid synthase (FASN) and leptin in broiler chickens. The study was conducted as a 2 × 3 factorial arrangement of treatments with phytate phosphorus at 0·20 and 0·40 % (added as the sodium phytate) and supplemental microbial phytase at 0, 500, or 1000 phytase units/kg. The results showed that phytase improved (P < 0·05) the growth performance and ileal digestibility of nutrients of broilers, but phytate had no effect (P>0·05) on these parameters, except the decrease (P < 0·01) in the digestibility of Ca. Phytate decreased (P < 0·05) the lipase activity, serum total cholesterol (T-CHO) and hepatic TAG, and elevated (P < 0·01) serum NEFA and HDL cholesterol. Phytase decreased (P < 0·05) serum NEFA, but increased (P < 0·01) serum T-CHO and hepatic TAG. Phytate and phytase also influenced (P < 0·01) the mRNA expressions of leptin in the liver. There were significant (P < 0·05) interactions of phytate and phytase on the concentrations of serum TAG and LDL cholesterol, hepatic NEFA and T-CHO, and the mRNA expressions of FASN. The results suggest that phytate and phytase can affect lipase activity and lipid metabolism of broiler chickens.