Obesity is a heath problem affecting a significant fraction of adult Americans and is on the rise globally. It is of importance to find treatments that achieve medically significant weight loss and successful long-term maintenance of a desired weight. Recent transgenic mouse studies and genetic characterization of spontaneous rodent obesity mutants, together with gene linkage analysis in humans, have led to an increased understanding of the physiologic and molecular mechanisms underlying obesity. However, much remains to be studied in this complex field of research. In this review, we discuss the physiology and genetics underlying obesity and how studies in rodents and humans are converging, producing a greater understanding of the mechanisms underlying this health problem.