Abstract Background Intramuscular fat (IMF) content is the major indicator for evaluating chicken meat quality due to its positive correlation with tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. An increasing number of studies are focusing on the functions of microRNAs (miRNAs) in intramuscular adipocyte differentiation. However, little is known about the association of miR-128-3p with intramuscular adipocyte differentiation. Our previous RNA-seq results indicated that miR-128-3p was differentially expressed at different periods in chicken intramuscular adipocytes, revealing a possible association with intramuscular adipogenesis. The purpose of this research was to investigate the biological functions and regulatory mechanism of miR-128-3p in chicken intramuscular adipogenesis. Results The results of a series of assays confirmed that miR-128-3p could promote the proliferation and inhibit the differentiation of intramuscular adipocytes. A total of 223 and 1,050 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified in the mimic treatment group and inhibitor treatment group, respectively, compared with the control group. Functional enrichment analysis revealed that the DEGs were involved in lipid metabolism-related pathways, such as the MAPK and TGF-β signaling pathways. Furthermore, target gene prediction analysis showed that miR-128-3p can target many of the DEGs, such as FDPS, GGT5, TMEM37, and ASL2. The luciferase assay results showed that miR-128-3p targeted the 3’ UTR of FDPS. The results of subsequent functional assays demonstrated that miR-128-3p acted as an inhibitor of intramuscular adipocyte differentiation by targeting FDPS. Conclusion miR-128-3p inhibits chicken intramuscular adipocyte differentiation by downregulating FDPS. Our findings provide a theoretical basis for the study of lipid metabolism and reveal a potential target for molecular breeding to improve meat quality.