Leptin plays an important role in regulating body fat stores of placental mammals, but the contribution of changes in energy expenditure to this adjustment remains controversial. We were interested in how recombinant murine leptin would affect metabolic rate (MR) and body temperature (Tb) of a marsupial mammal (Sminthopsis macroura, 25 g) known to display daily torpor but lacking thermogenetically active brown adipose tissue. In a group of eight animals deprived of food for 1 day at 18 degreesC, leptin treatment halved the duration of torpor bouts (time at Tb < 30 degreesC) and raised the average daily minimum Tb by 4.5 degreesC and minimum MR by 2.2-fold. Leptin treatment thus increased daily energy expenditure by 9%, although MR and Tb during the activity phase were not raised. Body mass was also not affected. These findings in a marsupial suggest that the adjustment of thermoregulatory energy expenditure during the rest phase in accordance with energy availability is a phylogenetically old function of leptin.