Since their discovery in 1981, the cardiac natriuretic peptides (cNP) atrial natriuretic peptide (also referred to as atrial natriuretic factor) and brain natriuretic peptide have been well characterised in terms of their renal and cardiovascular actions. In addition, it has been shown that cNP plasma levels are strong predictors of cardiovascular events and mortality in populations with no apparent heart disease as well as in patients with established cardiac pathology. cNP secretion from the heart is increased by humoral and mechanical stimuli. The clinical significance of cNP plasma levels has been shown to differ in obese and non-obese subjects. Recent lines of evidence suggest important metabolic effects of the cNP system, which has been shown to activate lipolysis, enhance lipid oxidation and mitochondrial respiration. Clinically, these properties lead to browning of white adipose tissue and to increased muscular oxidative capacity. In human association studies in patients without heart disease higher cNP concentrations were observed in lean, insulin-sensitive subjects. Highly elevated cNP levels are generally observed in patients with systolic heart failure or high blood pressure, while obese and type-2 diabetics display reduced cNP levels. Together, these observations suggest that the cNP system plays a role in the pathophysiology of metabolic vascular disease. Understanding this role should help define novel principles in the treatment of cardiometabolic disease.