Activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT) controls energy homeostasis in rodents and humans and has emerged as an innovative strategy for the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Here we show that ageing- and obesity-associated dysfunction of brown fat coincides with global microRNA downregulation due to reduced expression of the microRNA-processing node Dicer1. Consequently, heterozygosity of Dicer1 in BAT aggravated diet-induced-obesity (DIO)-evoked deterioration of glucose metabolism. Analyses of differential microRNA expression during preadipocyte commitment and mouse models of progeria, longevity and DIO identified miR-328 as a regulator of BAT differentiation. Reducing miR-328 blocked preadipocyte commitment, whereas miR-328 overexpression instigated BAT differentiation and impaired muscle progenitor commitment-partly through silencing of the β-secretase Bace1. Loss of Bace1 enhanced brown preadipocyte specification in vitro and was overexpressed in BAT of obese and progeroid mice. In vivo Bace1 inhibition delayed DIO-induced weight gain and improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. These experiments reveal Dicer1-miR-328-Bace1 signalling as a determinant of BAT function, and highlight the potential of Bace1 inhibition as a therapeutic approach to improve not only neurodegenerative diseases but also ageing- and obesity-associated impairments of BAT function.