Leptin is an adipocyte-secreted hormone with a key role in energy homeostasis. Studies in animal models, in humans with congenital complete leptin deficiency, and observational and interventional studies in humans with relative leptin deficiency (lower than normal leptin levels) have all indicated that leptin regulates multiple physiological functions, primarily in states of energy deficiency. This information led to proof-of-concept clinical trials involving leptin administration to individuals with relative or complete leptin deficiency. These conditions include congenital complete leptin deficiency, due to mutations in the leptin gene, and states of relative leptin deficiency including lipoatrophy and some forms of hypothalamic amenorrhea. Leptin, in replacement doses, normalizes neuroendocrine, metabolic and immune function in patients with these conditions, but further clinical studies are required to determine its long-term efficacy and safety. Management of leptin-deficient states with replacement doses of leptin holds promise as a therapeutic option. In addition, elucidation of the mechanisms underlying leptin resistance, which characterizes hyperleptinemic states such as human obesity and diabetes, might provide novel therapeutic targets for these prevalent clinical problems.