In recent years white adipose tissue inflammation has been recognized to be associated with obesity. Adipocytes and adipose tissue associated macrophages (ATMs) secrete bioactive molecules, including adipokines, chemokines/cytokines and free fatty acids that modulate the development of low-grade inflammation and insulin resistance responsible for obesity-related metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. Nuclear receptors, notably peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptors, are sensors of dietary lipids and control transcriptional programs of key metabolic and inflammatory pathways in adipocytes and macrophages. This review focuses on mechanisms by which nuclear receptors maintain white adipose tissue homeostasis. The identification of ATMs as active players in the initiation of chronic inflammation and the links between inflammatory signaling and metabolic dysfunction will be presented, followed by discussion of recent evidence for nuclear receptors in ATM function, with an emphasis on the paracrine interaction between adipocytes and ATMs.