Leptin is a 16-kDa peptide hormone that is primarily synthesized and secreted by adipose tissue. One of the major actions of this hormone is the control of energy balance by binding to receptors in the hypothalamus, leading to reduction in food intake, elevation in temperature and energy expenditure. In addition, increasing evidence suggests that leptin, through both direct and indirect mechanisms, may play an important role in cardiovascular and renal regulation. Although the relevance of endogenous leptin needs further clarification, it appears to function as a pressure- and volume-regulating factor under conditions of health. However, in abnormal situations characterized by chronic hyperleptinemia such as obesity, it may function pathophysiologically for the development of hypertension and possibly also for direct renal, vascular and cardiac damage.