Several descriptive studies, performed in women before and after menopause, in young and older men and in women with Cushing's disease, have suggested that steroid hormones have a role in the regulation of regional fat metabolism. Femoral lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity seems to be increased by progesterone, while it might be inhibited by testosterone. Estradiol and testosterone might be lipolytic in the abdominal region. Long-term exposure to corticosteroid might increase femoral LPL activity and decrease abdominal lipolysis. These conclusions, however, are only tentative. Corticosteroid hormones bind to the cytosolic fraction of human adipose tissue, while no binding was observed with estradiol or progesterone. The relationship between steroid hormone receptors and biological effects in unknown. Further work should be performed to investigate the mechanisms by which steroid hormones might influence human adipose tissue metabolism and distribution.