The co-ordinated regulation of food intake and energy expenditure takes place in the hypothalamic regions of the brain. Current understanding of the systems involved in this regulation suggests that, in the hypothalamus, there are two major groups of neuropeptides involved in orexigenic and anorexic processes. The orexigenic neuropeptides are neuropeptide Y (NPY) and agouti-related peptide (AgRP) and the anorexic neuropeptides are alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) and cocaine and amphetamine-related transcript (CART). Theneurons expressing these neuropeptides interact with each other and with signals from the periphery (such as leptin, insulin, ghrelin and glucocorticoids) to regulate feeding behaviour, energy expenditure and various endocrine axes. Although direct evidence is limited, there are examples of genetic obesity in humans which suggest that the balance between orexigenic and anorexic pathways in the hypothalamus is also pivotally important in the maintenance of energy homeostasis in humans.