Atherosclerotic disease remains the leading cause of death in industrialized nations despite major advances in its diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. The increasing epidemic of obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes will likely add to this burden. Increasingly, it is becoming apparent that adipose tissue is an active endocrine and paracrine organ that releases several bioactive mediators that influence not only body weight homeostasis but also inflammation, coagulation, fibrinolysis, insulin resistance, diabetes, and atherosclerosis. The cellular mechanisms linking obesity and atherosclerosis are complex and have not been fully elucidated. This review summarizes the experimental and clinical evidence on how excess body fat influences cardiovascular health through multiple yet converging pathways. The role of adipose tissue in the development of obesity-linked insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes will be reviewed, including an examination of the molecular links between obesity and atherosclerosis, namely, the effects of fat-derived adipokines. Finally, we will discuss how these new insights may provide us with innovative therapeutic strategies to improve cardiovascular health.