Neural pathways, especially those in the hypothalamus, integrate multiple nutritional, hormonal, and neural signals, resulting in the coordinated control of body weight balance and glucose homeostasis. Nuclear receptors (NRs) sense changing levels of nutrients and hormones, and therefore play essential roles in the regulation of energy homeostasis. Understanding the role and the underlying mechanisms of NRs in the context of energy balance control may facilitate the identification of novel targets to treat obesity. Notably, NRs are abundantly expressed in the brain, and emerging evidence indicates that a number of these brain NRs regulate multiple aspects of energy balance, including feeding, energy expenditure and physical activity. In this Review we summarize some of the recent literature regarding effects of brain NRs on body weight regulation and discuss mechanisms underlying these effects.