The major transcriptional factors involved in the adipogenic process include proteins belonging to the CCAAT/enhancer binding protein family, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, and adipocyte determination and differentiation dependent factor 1, also known as sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1. This process has been characterized with the aid of cell lines that represent various stages in the path of adipocyte commitment, ranging from pluripotent mesodermal fibroblasts to preadipocytes. Molecular analyses have led to a cascade model for adipogenesis based on timed expression of CCAAT/enhancer-binding proteins and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma. Gene targeting and transgenic-mouse technologies, which allow the manipulation of endogenous genes for these transcription factors, have also contributed to the understanding of adipogenesis. This review aims to integrate this information to gain an understanding of the transcriptional regulation of fat cell formation.