Uncoupling proteins (UCPs) are modulators of mitochondrial metabolism that have been implicated in the development of both insulin resistance and insulin insufficiency, the two major pathophysiological events associated with type 2 diabetes. UCP2 mRNA is expressed in a wide range of tissues; however UCP2 protein expression is restricted to fewer tissues, including the endocrine pancreas, spleen, stomach, brain and the lung. To date, its role in the pathophysiology of diabetes has been most strongly associated with impaired glucosestimulated insulin secretion from the β-cell, particularly after its induction by free fatty acids. The physiological role of UCP2 remains controversial, but it may act as a downstream signal transducer of superoxide. UCP3 mRNA and protein are expressed in relatively few tissues, predominately skeletal muscle, brown adipose tissue and heart. Increased expression of UCP3 in skeletal muscle is associated with protection from diet-induced insulin resistance in mice. In patients with type 2 diabetes UCP3 protein in muscle is reduced by 50%compared to healthy controls. The primary physiological role of the novel UCPs does not appear to be protection against positive energy balance and obesity; this is based largely on findings from studies of UCP2 and UCP3 knockout mice and from observed increases in UCP3 expression with fasting. The mechanism(s) of action of UCP2 and UCP3 are poorly understood. However, findings support roles for UCP2 and UCP3 as modifiers of fatty acid metabolism and in mitigating damage from reactive oxygen species.