Liver X receptor (LXR) agonists exert potent antiatherosclerotic actions but simultaneously induce excessive triglyceride (TG) accumulation in the liver. To obtain a detailed insight into the underlying mechanism of hepatic TG accumulation, we used a novel computational modeling approach called analysis of dynamic adaptations in parameter trajectories (ADAPT). We revealed that both input and output fluxes to hepatic TG content are considerably induced on LXR activation and that in the early phase of LXR agonism, hepatic steatosis results from only a minor imbalance between the two. It is generally believed that LXR-induced hepatic steatosis results from increased de novo lipogenesis (DNL). In contrast, ADAPT predicted that the hepatic influx of free fatty acids is the major contributor to hepatic TG accumulation in the early phase of LXR activation. Qualitative validation of this prediction showed a 5-fold increase in the contribution of plasma palmitate to hepatic monounsaturated fatty acids on acute LXR activation, whereas DNL was not yet significantly increased. This study illustrates that complex effects of pharmacological intervention can be translated into distinct patterns of metabolic regulation through state-of-the-art mathematical modeling.—Hijmans, B. S., Tiemann, C. A., Grefhorst, A., Boesjes, M., van Dijk, T. H., Tietge, U. J. F., Kuipers, F., van Riel, N. A. W., Groen, A. K., and Oosterveer, M. H. A systems biology approach reveals the physiological origin of hepatic steatosis induced by liver X receptor activation.