Adipose tissue, which is primarily composed of adipocytes, is crucial for maintaining energy and metabolic homeostasis. Adipogenesis is thought to occur in two stages: commitment of mesenchymal stem cells to a preadipocyte fate and terminal differentiation. Cell shape and extracellular matrix remodelling have recently been found to regulate preadipocyte commitment and competency by modulating WNT and RHO-family GTPase signalling cascades. Adipogenic stimuli induce terminal differentiation in committed preadipocytes through the epigenomic activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ). The coordination of PPARγ with CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP) transcription factors maintains adipocyte gene expression. Improving our understanding of these mechanisms may allow us to identify therapeutic targets against metabolic diseases that are rapidly becoming epidemic globally.