Abstract Recent studies have reinforced the view that the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA) regulates food intake and body weight. We identified leptin-sensitive neurons in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (Arc) that innervate the LHA using retrograde tracing with leptin administration. We found that retrogradely labeled cells in the Arc contained neuropeptide Y (NPY) mRNA or proopiomelanocortin (POMC) mRNA. Following leptin administration, NPY cells in the Arc did not express Fos but expressed suppressor of cytokine signaling-3 (SOCS-3) mRNA. In contrast, leptin induced both Fos and SOCS-3 expression in POMC neurons, many of which also innervated the LHA. These findings suggest that leptin directly and differentially engages NPY and POMC neurons that project to the LHA, linking circulating leptin and neurons that regulate feeding behavior and body weight homeostasis.