Adipogenesis, or the development of fat cells from preadipocytes, has been one of the most intensely studied models of cellular differentiation. In part this has been because of the availability of in vitro models that faithfully recapitulate most of the critical aspects of fat cell formation in vivo. More recently, studies of adipogenesis have proceeded with the hope that manipulation of this process in humans might one day lead to a reduction in the burden of obesity and diabetes. This review explores some of the highlights of a large and burgeoning literature devoted to understanding adipogenesis at the molecular level. The hormonal and transcriptional control of adipogenesis is reviewed, as well as studies on a less well known type of fat cell, the brown adipocyte. Emphasis is placed, where possible, on in vivo studies with the hope that the results discussed may one day shed light on basic questions of cellular growth and differentiation in addition to possible benefits in human health.