In vertebrates, adipose tissue is the main storage site for lipids within specialized lipid-laden mature adipocytes. While many species have evolved cells capable of lipid storage, the adipocyte represents a unique specialized cell involved in fuel storage, endocrine, nervous and immune function. However, the adipocytes are not the only cell type in mammals that can accumulate lipid droplets. The ectopic accumulation of lipid in non-adipose tissues including the liver, skeletal muscle, bone, pancreas, and heart in combination with its excessive accumulation in adipose tissue contributes to metabolic disease. Determining the lipid processing components that are necessary and sufficiently for lipid accumulation in adipose and non-adipose tissues, in addition to endocrine function, will lead to a clearer definition of an adipocyte.