Phosphatidate phosphatase (PAP) enzymes catalyze the dephosphorylation of phosphatidate, yielding diacylglycerol and inorganic phosphate. In eukaryotic cells, PAP activity has a central role in the synthesis of phospholipids and triacylglycerol through its product diacylglycerol, and it also generates and/or degrades lipid-signaling molecules that are related to phosphatidate. There are two types of PAP enzyme, Mg(2+) dependent (PAP1) and Mg(2+) independent (PAP2), but only genes encoding PAP2 enzymes had been identified until recently, when a gene (PAH1) encoding a PAP1 enzyme was found in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This discovery has revealed a molecular function of the mammalian protein lipin, a deficiency of which causes lipodystrophy in mice. With molecular information now available for both types of PAP, the specific roles of these enzymes in lipid metabolism are being clarified.