Flux through metabolic pathways is inherently sensitive to the levels of specific substrates and products, but cellular metabolism is also managed by integrated control mechanisms that sense the nutrient and energy status of a cell or organism. The mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), a protein kinase complex ubiquitous to eukaryotic cells, has emerged as a critical signalling node that links nutrient sensing to the coordinated regulation of cellular metabolism. Here, we discuss the role of mTORC1 as a conduit between cellular growth conditions and the anabolic processes that promote cell growth. The emerging network of signalling pathways through which mTORC1 integrates systemic signals (secreted growth factors) with local signals (cellular nutrients - amino acids, glucose and oxygen - and energy, ATP) is detailed. Our expanding understanding of the regulatory network upstream of mTORC1 provides molecular insights into the integrated sensing mechanisms by which diverse cellular signals converge to control cell physiology.