Initially, the function of the fat mass and obesity associated (Fto) gene seemed to be primarily the regulation of the body weight. Here we show that loss of Fto results in a hyperactivation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. In consequence, Fto -/- mice display an anxiety-like behavior and impairments in working memory. Furthermore, differentiation of neurons is affected in the hippocampus. As a cause of these impairments we identified a processing defect of the neurotrophin BDNF which is most likely the result of a reduced expression of MMP-9. Therefore, we propose FTO as a possible new target to develop novel approaches for the treatment of diseases associated with hippocampal disorders. In parallel, we also would like to make the point that any anti-obesity therapy via blocking FTO function can have negative effects on the proper function of the hippocampus.