Thyroid hormones influence heart rate, serum lipids, metabolic rate, body weight and multiple aspects of lipid, carbohydrate, protein and mineral metabolism. Although increased thyroid hormone levels can improve serum lipid profiles and reduce fat, these positive effects are counterbalanced by harmful effects on the heart, muscle and bone. Thus, attempts to use thyroid hormones for cholesterol-lowering and weight loss purposes have so far been limited. However, over the past decade, thyroid hormone analogues that are capable of uncoupling beneficial effects from deleterious effects have been developed. Such drugs could serve as powerful new tools to address two of the largest medical problems in developed countries--atherosclerosis and obesity.