Adipokines are proteins produced by white adipose tissue, which is an active secretory organ. Regulation of immune and inflammatory responses is among the multiple physiological processes involving adipokines. Leptin, adiponectin and resistin are the most extensively studied adipokines. Leptin may promote inflammation by inducing Th1 phenotype development, whereas adiponectin may combat inflammation by reducing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Resistin belongs to a family of proteins found in foci of inflammation, where they contribute to the inflammatory response. All three adipokines have been detected in synovial fluid from joints affected with the inflammatory disease rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or the degenerative disease osteoarthritis (OA). Recent evidence points to involvement of leptin in RA and OA and indicates that adiponectin and/or resistin mediate inflammation in arthritis. Thus, fat tissue is an active organ whose products contribute to inflammatory and degenerative processes underlying common joint diseases.