AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is the downstream component of a kinase cascade that acts as a gauge of cellular energy levels. Over the last few years, accumulating evidence has demonstrated that AMPK is also involved in the regulation of energy balance at the whole-body level by responding to hormones and nutrient signals, which leads to changes in energy homeostasis. The physiological relevance of this new role of AMPK is demonstrated by the fact that impairment of AMPK function is associated with metabolic alterations, insulin resistance, obesity, hormonal disorders and cardiovascular disease. Here, we summarize the role of AMPK in the regulation of energy homeostasis. Understanding this key enzyme and its tissue-specific regulation will provide new targets for the treatment of metabolic disorders.