Leptin (from the Greek leptos=thin) was identified only 3 years ago. It has attracted huge attention both scientifically, with more than 600 publications, and in the media, where this protein has been portrayed as the way to a cure for obesity. Indeed, leptin was first described as an adipocyte-derived signalling factor, which, after interaction with its receptors, induced a complex response including control of bodyweight and energy expenditure. Leptin seems in addition to its role in metabolic control to have important roles in reproduction and neuroendocrine signalling. Human obesity is a complex disorder, with many factors playing a part; the pathophysiology of leptin is not as simple as it seems to be in rodent models of obesity.