Long-term energy stress (ES) during the cold season is a serious problem for the breeding of yaks. In this paper, the response of fat metabolism in yaks to long-term ES during the cold season was studied. Gas chromatography (GC) analysis showed that the percentage of saturated fatty acids (SFAs) in the subcutaneous fat of the yaks in the ES group was 42.7%, which was less than the 56.6% in the CO group (p
< 0.01) and the percentage of polyunsaturated unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the subcutaneous fat of the yaks in the ES group was 38.3%, which was more than the 26.0% in the CO group (p
< 0.01). The serum analysis showed that fatty acid oxidation in yaks was increased under long-term ES. In the subcutaneous fat of yaks under long-term ES, the gene expression levels of glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase 4 (GPAT4), hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL), patatin-like phospholipase domain-containing protein 2 (PNPLA2), acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (ACAD), acyl-coenzyme A thioesterase 8 (ACOT8), facilitated glucose transporter (GLUT4), 3-oxoacyl-[acyl-carrier-protein] synthase (OXSM), oestradiol 17-beta-dehydrogenase 8 (HSD17B8) and malonate-Co-A ligase ACSF3 (ACSF3) were downregulated (q
< 0.05), whereas the gene expression levels of aquaporin-7 (AQP7), long-chain-fatty-acid-CoA ligase (ACSL), elongation of very long chain fatty acids protein (ELOVL) and fatty acid desaturase 1 (FADS1) were upregulated (q
< 0.05), indicating the inhibition of fat catabolism, fat anabolism, fatty acid oxidation, glucose (GLU) intake and SFA synthesis and the promotion of glycerinum (GLY) transportation and PUFA synthesis. Additional findings showed that the gene expression levels of leptin (LEP), adenosine 5′-monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) were upregulated (q
< 0.05), whereas the gene expression levels of malonyl-CoA decarboxylase (MCD), sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 (SREBF1), mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and serine/threonine-protein kinase (AKT) were downregulated (q
< 0.05), indicating that fat metabolism in the subcutaneous fat of yaks under ES was mainly regulated by AMPK signaling and mTOR and PI3K-AKT signaling were also involved. Energy consumption was inhibited in the subcutaneous fat itself. This study can provide a theoretical basis for the healthy breeding and genetic breeding of yaks.