Insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2), an essential component of the stem cell niche, has been reported to modulate the proliferation and differentiation of stem cells. Previously, a continuous expression of IGF2 in tissues was reported to maintain the self-renewal ability of several types of stem cells. Therefore, in this study, we investigated the expression of IGF2 in adipose tissues and explored the effects of IGF2 on adipose-derived stromal cells (ADSCs) in vitro. The expression pattern of IGF2 in rat adipose tissues was determined by gene expression and protein analyses. The effect of IGF2 on proliferation, stemness-related marker expression and adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation was systematically investigated. Furthermore, antagonists of IGF2-specific receptors-namely, BMS-754807 and picropodophyllin-were added to explore the underlying signal transduction mechanisms. IGF2 levels displayed a tendency to decrease with age in rat adipose tissues. After the addition of IGF2, isolated ADSCs displayed higher proliferation and expression of the stemness-related markers NANOG, OCT4 and SOX2 and greater differentiation potential to adipocytes and osteoblasts. Additionally, both type 1 insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-1R) and insulin receptor (IR) participated in the IGF2-mediated promotion of stemness in ADSCs. Our findings indicate that IGF2 could enhance the stemness of rat ADSCs via IGF-1R and IR and may highlight an effective method for the expansion of ADSCs for clinical application.