In vitro models have been invaluable in determining the mechanisms involved in adipocyte proliferation, differentiation, adipokine secretion and gene/protein expression. The cells presently available for research purposes all have unique advantages and disadvantages that one should be aware of when selecting cells. Established cell lines, such as 3T3-L1 cells, are easier and less costly to use than freshly isolated cells, even though freshly isolated cells allow for various comparisons such as the in vitro evaluation of different in vivo conditions that may not be possible using cell lines. Moreover, stem cells, transdifferentiated cells or dedifferentiated cells are relatively new cell models being evaluated for the study of adipocyte regulation and physiology. The focus of this brief review is to highlight similarities and differences in adipocyte models to aid in appropriate model selection and data interpretation for successful advancement of our understanding of adipocyte biology.