Adiponectin is the most abundant peptide secreted by adipocytes, being a key component in the interrelationship between adiposity, insulin resistance and inflammation. Central obesity accompanied by insulin resistance is a key factor in the development of metabolic syndrome (MS) and future macrovascular complications. Moreover, the remarkable correlation between coronary artery disease (CAD) and alterations in glucose metabolism has raised the likelihood that atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) may share a common biological background. We summarize here the current knowledge about the influence of adiponectin on insulin sensitivity and endothelial function, discussing its forthcoming prospects and potential role as a therapeutic target for MS, T2DM, and cardiovascular disease. Adiponectin is present in the circulation as a dimer, trimer or protein complex of high molecular weight hexamers, >400 kDa. AdipoR1 and AdipoR2 are its major receptors in vivo mediating the metabolic actions. Adiponectin stimulates phosphorylation and AMP (adenosin mono phosphate) kinase activation, exerting direct effects on vascular endothelium, diminishing the inflammatory response to mechanical injury and enhancing endothelium protection in cases of apolipoprotein E deficiency. Hypoadiponectinemia is consistently associated with obesity, MS, atherosclerosis, CAD, T2DM. Lifestyle correction helps to favorably modify plasma adiponectin levels. Low adiponectinemia in obese patients is raised via continued weight loss programs in both diabetic and nondiabetic individuals and is also accompanied by reductions in pro-inflammatory factors. Diet modifications, like intake of fish, omega-3 supplementation, adherence to a Mediterranean dietary pattern and coffee consumption also increase adiponectin levels. Antidiabetic and cardiovascular pharmacological agents, like glitazones, glimepiride, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers are also able to improve adiponectin concentration. Fibric acid derivatives, like bezafibrate and fenofibrate, have been reported to enhance adiponectin levels as well. T-cadherin, a membrane-associated adiponectin-binding protein lacking intracellular domain seems to be a main mediator of the antiatherogenic adiponectin actions. The finding of novel pharmacologic agents proficient to improve adiponectin plasma levels should be target of exhaustive research. Interesting future approaches could be the development of adiponectin-targeted drugs chemically designed to induce the activaton of its receptors and/or postreceptor signaling pathways, or the development of specific adiponectin agonists.