Since obesity is becoming increasingly prevalent worldwide, much effort is being devoted to understanding its pathogenesis and treatment. In recent years, several candidate genes have been proposed as therapeutic targets. However, stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1 (SCD1) is of special significance, because it is the major gene target of leptin-a central mediator of energy homeostasis. There is evidence that SCD1 deficiency activates metabolic pathways that promote beta-oxidation and decrease lipogenesis in liver and skeletal muscles. One mechanism is via increased activation of AMP-activated protein kinase. SCD1 mutation results also in global changes in expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism. SCD1 deficient mice have increased energy expenditure, reduced body adiposity, and are resistant to diet-induced obesity. In this review, we examine data from our laboratory and others suggesting that SCD1 is an important component in the regulation of body metabolism.