Obesity has been described as a global epidemic and is a low-grade chronic inflammatory disease that arises as a consequence of energy imbalance. Obesity increases the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), by mechanisms that are not entirely clarified. Elevated circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines and free fatty acids (FFA) during obesity cause insulin resistance and ß-cell dysfunction, the two main features of T2D, which are both aggravated with the progressive development of hyperglycemia. The inflammatory kinase c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) responds to various cellular stress signals activated by cytokines, free fatty acids and hyperglycemia, and is a key mediator in the transition between obesity and T2D. Specifically, JNK mediates both insulin resistance and ß-cell dysfunction, and is therefore a potential target for T2D therapy.