Metabolic diseases are an increasing threat in developed countries. Dysregulation of metabolic pathways, caused by imbalances in energy homeostasis, leads to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease with devastating results for both individuals and societies. Sirtuins, a conserved family of NAD(+)-dependent deacetylase enzymes found in many species, regulate various metabolic pathways and have emerged as important sensors of energy status in mammals. The nuclear sirtuins, SIRT1, SIRT6 and SIRT7, regulate the activity of key transcription factors and cofactors of numerous metabolic pathways in almost all tissues by linking nutrient signals with the cellular responses to energy demands. The mitochondrial sirtuins, SIRT3, SIRT4 and SIRT5, regulate the activity of important mitochondrial enzymes and drive metabolic cycles in response to fasting and calorie restriction. Accumulating evidence indicates that sirtuins can be beneficial in the prevention of metabolic and age-related diseases and suggests that they can be pharmacologically activated to ameliorate such diseases. This Review describes the latest advances in the understanding of the function of sirtuins as regulators of mammalian metabolism and focuses on the role of these enzymes as mediators of nutrient availability.