Human fat cell lipolysis was considered until recently to be an exclusive cAMP/protein-kinase A (PKA)-regulated metabolic pathway under the control of catecholamines and insulin. Moreover, exercise-induced lipid mobilization in humans was considered to mainly depend on catecholamine action and interplay between fat cell beta- and alpha2-adrenergic receptors controlling adenylyl cyclase activity and cAMP production. We have recently demonstrated that natriuretic peptides stimulate lipolysis and contribute to the regulation of lipid mobilization in humans. Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) and brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) stimulate lipolysis in human isolated fat cells. Activation of the adipocyte plasma membrane type A guanylyl cyclase receptor (NPR-A), increase in intracellular guanosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cyclic GMP) levels and activation of hormone-sensitive lipase mediate the action of ANP. ANP does not modulate cAMP production and PKA activity. Increment of cGMP induces the phosphorylation of hormone-sensitive lipase and perilipin A via the activation of a cGMP dependent protein kinase-I (cGK-I). Plasma concentrations of glycerol and non-esterified fatty acids are increased by i.v. infusion of ANP in humans. Physiological relevance of the ANP-dependent pathway was demonstrated in young subjects performing physical exercise. ANP plays a role in conjunction with catecholamines in the control of exercise-induced lipid mobilization. This pathway becomes of major importance when subjects are submitted to chronic treatment with a beta-blocker. Oral beta-adrenoceptor blockade suppresses the beta-adrenergic component of catecholamine action in fat cells and potentiates exercise-induced ANP release by the heart. These findings may have several implications whenever natriuretic peptide secretion is altered such as in subjects with left ventricular dysfunction, congestive heart failure and obesity.