AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a key molecular player in energy homeostasis at both cellular and whole-body levels. AMPK has been shown to mediate the metabolic effects of hormones such as leptin, ghrelin, adiponectin, glucocorticoids and insulin as well as cannabinoids. Generally, activated AMPK stimulates catabolic pathways (glycolysis, fatty acid oxidation and mitochondrial biogenesis) and inhibits anabolic pathways (gluconeogenesis, glycogen, fatty acid and protein synthesis), and has a direct appetite-regulating effect in the hypothalamus. Drugs that activate AMPK, namely metformin and thiazolidinediones, are often used to treat metabolic disorders. Thus, AMPK is now recognised as a potential target for the treatment of obesity and associated co-morbidities.