Growing evidence suggests that pathological overactivation of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is associated with dyslipidemia, obesity and diabetes. Indeed, this signalling system acting through cannabinoid receptors has been shown to function both centrally and peripherally to regulate feeding behaviour as well as energy expenditure and metabolism. Consequently, modulation of these receptors can promote significant alterations in body weight and associated metabolic profile. Importantly, blocking cannabinoid receptor type 1 function has been found to prevent obesity and metabolic dysfunction in various murine models and in humans. Here we provide a detailed account of the known physiological role of the ECS in energy balance, and explore how recent studies have delivered novel insights into the potential targeting of this system as a therapeutic means for treating obesity and related metabolic disorders.