The interactions between growth hormone (GH) and adipose tissue can be considered as a cycle: GH is lipolytic and acts to reduce and redistribute body fat; in turn, obesity is characterized by reduced GH output. The effects of GH on adipose tissue have been studied in obese, elderly and nonobese GH-deficient adults and children. In GH-deficient adults GH treatment appears to lead to net loss of fat tissue. However, evidence that GH promotes substantial weight loss in the obese is scanty. GH treatment trials in the elderly show significant increases in lean body mass and smaller decreases in fat mass. Data must be viewed with caution because of the methodological pitfalls inherent in measuring body composition and failure to induce net weight loss in the obese.