Leptin is the protein product encoded by the obese (ob) gene. It is a circulating hormone produced primarily by the adipose tissue. ob/ob mice with mutations of the gene encoding leptin become morbidly obese, infertile, hyperphagic, hypothermic, and diabetic. Since the cloning of leptin in 1994, our knowledge in body weight regulation and the role played by leptin has increased substantially. We now know that leptin signals through its receptor, OB-R, which is a member of the cytokine receptor superfamily. Leptin serves as an adiposity signal to inform the brain the adipose tissue mass in a negative feedback loop regulating food intake and energy expenditure. Leptin also plays important roles in angiogenesis, immune function, fertility, and bone formation. Humans with mutations in the gene encoding leptin are also morbidly obese and respond to leptin treatment, demonstrating that enhancing or inhibiting leptin's activities in vivo may have potential therapeutic benefits.