The rise in the global prevalence of human obesity has emphasized the need for a greater understanding of the physiological mechanisms that underlie energy homeostasis. Numerous circulating nutritional cues and central neuromodulatory signals are integrated within the brain to regulate both short- and long-term nutritional state. The central melanocortin system represents a crucial point of convergence for these signals and, thus, has a fundamental role in regulating body weight. The melanocortin ligands, synthesized in discrete neuronal populations within the hypothalamus and brainstem, modulate downstream homeostatic signalling via their action at central melanocortin-3 and -4 receptors. Intimately involved in both ingestive behaviour and energy expenditure, the melanocortin system has garnered much interest as a potential therapeutic target for human obesity.