Body weight is regulated by a feedback loop in which peripheral signals report nutritional information to an integratory center in the brain. The cloning of the ob gene is consistent with this concept and suggests that body fat content in adult rodents is regulated by a negative feedback loop centered in the hypothalamus/1-8/. In a recent report, two severely obese children with congenital leptin deficiency due to a homozygous frame-shift mutation involving the deletion of a single guanine nucleotide in codon 133 of the ob gene have been described. This discovery provides the first genetic evidence that leptin is an important regulator of energy balance in humans. However, it has become increasingly clear that apart from leptin's function in the central nervous system and in regulation of energy balance, leptin also acts in the periphery and might be important as a hormone modulating processes in regard to reproduction, glucose metabolism and insulin resistance, as well as growth and development of many tissues and organs either directly or indirectly. This report reviews some of the topics of leptin research that are of particular importance and relevance for pediatric and adolescent medicine and for pediatric endocrinology in particular.