Cellulitis is an acute, subacute or chronic inflammation of the dermis and subdermal tissues, which is typically caused by bacteria, although other causes are possible. The present study aimed to evaluate the association between resistin levels and the recovery time of patients with cellulitis. In addition, the effect of resistin and insulin resistance on the prognosis of cellulitis was investigated. In total, 52 patients with cellulitis (male, 21; female, 31) and an age-matched group of 42 healthy individuals (male, 18; female, 24) were included in the study. The levels of serum resistin, fasting plasma glucose (FPG), homeostasis model assessment-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), C-reactive protein (CRP) and other biochemical parameters were compared between the groups. The mean resistin levels in the cellulitis and control groups were 9.4 +/- 5.3 and 5.8 +/- 3.1 ng/ml, respectively. The levels of resistin, FPG, HOMA-IR and CRP were significantly higher in the cellulitis group compared with the control group (P<0.001). Furthermore, the mean recovery time of the patients with cellulitis was 21.2 +/- 5.6 days. Thus, increased levels of resistin (P=0.002) and HOMA-IR (P=0.005) could be used as predictive factors for the recovery time. The enhanced levels of resistin and HOMA-IR were shown to correlate with the high CRP levels in the cellulitis group. Therefore, the results indicated that increased levels of resistin may function as a prognostic marker for cellulitis.