From the perspective of a muscle physiologist, adipose tissue has long been perceived predominantly as a fuel reservoir that provides muscle and other tissues with NEFA when exogenous nutrients are insufficient for their energy needs. Recently, studies have established that adipose tissue is also an endocrine organ. Among the hormones it releases are adiponectin and leptin, both of which can activate AMP-activated protein kinase and increase fatty acid oxidation in skeletal muscle and probably other tissues. Deficiencies of leptin or leptin receptor, adiponectin and IL-6 are associated with obesity, insulin resistance and a propensity to type 2 diabetes. In addition, a lack of adiponectin has been linked to atherosclerosis. Whether this pathology reflects a deficient activation of AMP-activated protein kinase in peripheral tissues remains to be determined. Finally, recent studies have suggested that skeletal muscle may also function as an endocrine organ when it releases the cytokine IL-6 into the circulation during sustained exercise. Interestingly, one of the apparent effects of IL-6 is to stimulate lipolysis, causing the release of NEFA from the adipocyte. Thus, hormonal communications exist between the adipocyte and muscle that could enable them to talk to each other. The physiological relevance of this cross talk clearly warrants further study.