Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) compose a family of three nuclear receptors which act as lipid sensors to modulate gene expression. As such, PPARs are implicated in major metabolic and inflammatory regulations with far-reaching medical consequences, as well as in important processes controlling cellular fate. Throughout this review, we focus on the cellular functions of these receptors. The molecular mechanisms through which PPARs regulate transcription are thoroughly addressed with particular emphasis on the latest results on corepressor and coactivator action. Their implication in cellular metabolism and in the control of the balance between cell proliferation, differentiation and survival is then reviewed. Finally, we discuss how the integration of various intra-cellular signaling pathways allows PPARs to participate to whole-body homeostasis by mediating regulatory crosstalks between organs.