Adiponectin, a novel hormone made by fat tissue, regulates energy metabolism and endothelial activation. Serum levels of adiponectin are reduced in conditions that are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, such as diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. Adiponectin trimers assemble into higher-order oligomers, which have different signaling properties. Adiponectin trimers and a C-terminal globular domain activate AMP-activated protein kinase, whereas hexamer and high-molecular weight isoforms activate nuclear factor-kappa B signaling pathways. Exogenous adiponectin corrects metabolic defects that are associated with insulin resistance, and might protect the endothelium from the progression of cardiovascular disease. Receptors for adiponectin have been described and might provide future therapeutic targets for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.