Melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) is a cyclic peptide that mediates its effects by the activation of two G-protein-coupled seven transmembrane receptors (MCHR1 and MCHR2) in humans. In contrast to its primary role in regulating skin color in fish, MCH has evolved in mammals to regulate dynamic physiological functions, from food intake and energy expenditure to behavior and emotion. Chronic infusion or transgenic expression of MCH stimulates feeding and increases adipocity, whereas targeted deletion of MCH or its receptor (MCHR1) leads to resistance to diet-induced obesity with increased energy expenditure and thermogenesis. The involvement of MCH in energy homeostasis and in brain activity has also been validated in mice treated with non-peptide antagonists, suggesting that blockade of MCHR1 could provide a viable approach for treatment of obesity and certain neurological disorders. This review focuses on emerging roles of MCH in regulating central and peripheral mechanisms.