Studies performed during the last decade indicate that adipose tissue is not only a site of triglyceride storage but also an active endocrine organ which secretes many biologically active mediators referred to as “adipokines”. In contrast to many adipokines which are overproduced in obese individuals and exert deleterious effects on insulin sensitivity, lipoprotein metabolism and cardiovascular system, such as leptin, tumor necrosis factor-α, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, resistin, etc., adiponectin seems to be a unique adipokine which is produced in lower amounts in obese than in lean subjects and possesses predominantly beneficial activities, i.e. increases insulin sensitivity, stimulates fatty acid oxidation, inhibits inflammatory reaction and induces endothelium-dependent nitric oxide-mediated vasorelaxation. Adiponectin binds two receptors, AdipoR1 and AdipoR2. Adiponectin knockout mice exhibit various manifestations of the metabolic syndrome such as insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, hyperlipidemia, impaired endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation and hypertension, as well as augmented neointima formation after vascular injury. Clinical studies indicate that plasma adiponectin concentration is lower in patients with essential hypertension and ischemic heart disease. Raising endogenous adiponectin level or increasing the sensitivity to this hormone may be a promising therapeutic strategy for patients with metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. Among currently used drugs, thiazolidinediones (peroxisome proliferator activated receptor γ agonists) are most effective in elevating adiponectin level.