Lipins are phosphatidic acid phosphatases with a pivotal role in regulation of triglyceride and glycerophospholipid metabolism. Lipin1 is also an amplifier of PGC-1α, a nuclear coactivator of PPAR-α responsive gene transcription. Lipins do not contain recognized membrane-association domains, but interaction of these enzymes with cellular membranes is necessary for access to their phospholipid substrate. We identified a role for a conserved polybasic amino acid motif in an N-terminal domain previously implicated as a determinant of nuclear localization in selective binding of lipin1β to phosphatidic acid, using blot overlay assays and model bilayer membranes. Studies using lipin1β polybasic motif variants establish that this region is also critical for nuclear import and raise the possibility that nuclear/cytoplasmic shuttling of lipin1β is regulated by PA. We used pharmacological agents and lipin1β polybasic motif mutants to explore the role of PA-mediated membrane association and nuclear localization on lipin1β function in phospholipid metabolism and adipogenic differentiation. We identify a role for the lipin1 polybasic motif as both a lipid binding motif and a primary nuclear localization sequence. These two functions are necessary for full expression of the biological activity of the protein in intracellular lipid metabolism and transcriptional control of adipogenesis.