Leptin, the product of the ob gene, is a hormone secreted by fat cells which is primarily involved in the regulation of body weight. We have generated a leptin immunoadhesin (leptin-IgG) which was more potent than leptin alone at reducing body weight and food intake when injected into ob/ob mice. This molecule was used to identify high affinity binding sites on human embryonic 293 kidney cells and subsequently to isolate a cDNA encoding the leptin receptor from this cell line by expression cloning. This receptor corresponds to the short form of the recently isolated leptin receptor. Analysis of the expression pattern of the two forms of receptor by Northern blot, in situ hybridization and quantitative PCR showed that the receptor is expressed in most tissues but that the long form is prevalent in the hypothalamus.