Research into the structure-function relationships of lipases and esterases has increased significantly during the past decade. Of particular importance has been the deduction of several crystal structures, providing a new basis for understanding these enzymes. The generated insights have, together with cloning and expression, aided studies on structure-function relationships of hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL). Novel phosphorylation sites have been identified in HSL, which are probably important for activation of HSL and lipolysis. Functional and structural analyses have revealed features in HSL common to lipases and esterases. In particular, the catalytic core with a catalytic triad has been unveiled. Furthermore, the investigations have given clear suggestions with regard to the identity of functional and structural domains of HSL. In the present paper, these studies on HSL structure-function relationships and short-term regulation are reviewed, and the results presented in relation to other discoveries in regulated lipolysis.