The worldwide increase in the prevalence of obesity is becoming one of the most important clinical-epidemiological phenomena of the present days. Environmental factors such as changes in life-style and feeding behavior associated with poorly characterized genetic determinants are though to play the most important roles in the pathogenesis of this disease. During the last ten years, since the discovery of leptin, great advances were obtained in the characterization of the hypothalamic mechanisms involved in the control of food intake and thermogenesis. Such advances are unveiling a complex and integrated system and are opening a wide perspective for the finding of novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of this harming condition. This review will present some of the most recent findings in this field. It will be focused on the actions of leptin and insulin in the hypothalamus and will explore the hypothesis that hypothalamic resistance to the action of these hormones may play a role in the development of obesity and may act as a molecular link between obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus and other clinical conditions on which insulin resistance plays an important pathogenetic role.