Aims/hypothesis: Exposure to sunlight has the potential to suppress metabolic dysfunction and obesity. We previously demonstrated that regular exposure to low-doses of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) reduced weight gain and signs of diabetes in male mice fed a high-fat diet, in part via release of nitric oxide from skin. Here, we explore further mechanistic pathways through which low-dose UVR exerts these beneficial effects. Methods: We fed mice with a luciferase-tagged Ucp1 gene (which encodes uncoupling protein-1 [UCP-1]), referred to here as the Ucp1 luciferase transgenic mouse (‘Thermomouse’) a high-fat diet and examined the effects of repeated exposure to low-dose UVR on weight gain and development of metabolic dysfunction as well as UCP-1-dependent thermogenesis in interscapular brown adipose tissue (iBAT). Results: Repeated exposure to low-dose UVR suppressed the development of glucose intolerance and hepatic lipid accumulation via dermal release of nitric oxide while also reducing circulating IL-6 (compared with mice fed a high-fat diet only). Dietary nitrate supplementation did not mimic the effects of low-dose UVR. A single low dose of UVR increased UCP-1 expression (by more than twofold) in iBAT of mice fed a low-fat diet, 24 h after exposure. However, in mice fed a high-fat diet, there was no effect of UVR on UCP-1 expression in iBAT (compared with mock-treated mice) when measured at regular intervals over 12 weeks. More extensive circadian studies did not identify any substantial shifts in UCP-1 expression in mice exposed to low-dose UVR, although skin temperature at the interscapular site was reduced in UVR-exposed mice. The appearance of cells with a white adipocyte phenotype (‘whitening’) in iBAT induced by consuming the high-fat diet was suppressed by exposure to low-dose UVR in a nitric oxide-dependent fashion. Significant shifts in the expression of important core gene regulators of BAT function (Dio2, increased more than twofold), fatty acid transport (increased Fatp2 [also known as Slc27a2]), lipolysis (decreased Atgl [also known as Pnpla2]), lipogenesis (decreased Fasn) and inflammation (decreased Tnf), and proportions of macrophages (increased twofold) were observed in iBAT of mice exposed to low-dose UVR. These effects were independent of nitric oxide released from skin. Conclusions/interpretation: Our results suggest that non-burning (low-dose) UVR suppresses the BAT ‘whitening’, steatotic and pro-diabetic effects of consuming a high-fat diet through skin release of nitric oxide, with some metabolic and immune pathways in iBAT regulated by UVR independently of nitric oxide.