Accumulating evidence indicates that obesity is closely associated with an increased risk of metabolic diseases such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Obesity results from an imbalance between food intake and energy expenditure, which leads to an excessive accumulation of adipose tissue. Adipose tissue is now recognized not only as a main site of storage of excess energy derived from food intake but also as an endocrine organ. The expansion of adipose tissue produces a number of bioactive substances, known as adipocytokines or adipokines, which trigger chronic low-grade inflammation and interact with a range of processes in many different organs. Although the precise mechanisms are still unclear, dysregulated production or secretion of these adipokines caused by excess adipose tissue and adipose tissue dysfunction can contribute to the development of obesity-related metabolic diseases. In this review, we focus on the role of several adipokines associated with obesity and the potential impact on obesity-related metabolic diseases. Multiple lines evidence provides valuable insights into the roles of adipokines in the development of obesity and its metabolic complications. Further research is still required to fully understand the mechanisms underlying the metabolic actions of a few newly identified adipokines.