Obesity and its related cluster of pathophysiologic conditions including insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, dyslipidemia, and hypertension are recognized as growing threats to world health. It is now estimated that 10% of the world's population is overweight or obese. As a result, new therapeutic options for the treatment of obesity are clearly warranted. Recent research has focused on the role that gp130 receptor ligands may play as potential therapeutic targets in obesity. One cytokine in particular, ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF), acts both centrally and peripherally and mimics the biologic actions of the appetite control hormone leptin, but unlike leptin, CNTF appears to be effective in obesity and as such may have therapeutic potential. In addition, CNTF suppresses inflammatory signaling cascades associated with lipid accumulation in liver and skeletal muscle. This review examines the potential role of gp130 receptor ligands as part of a therapeutic strategy to treat obesity.