Adipose and muscle tissues undergo regulated growth and differentiation processes that are modulated by a wide range of factors. The interactions between myogenic cells and adipocytes play a significant role in growth and development, including the rate and extent of myogenesis, muscle growth, adipogenesis, lipogenesis/lipolysis, and in the utilization of energy substrates. Important hormones and growth factors involved in the regulation of these processes include glucocorticoids, insulin-like growth factors, various cytokines, insulin, and leptin. Interactions among these axes have important implications in their influence on relative fat and lean deposition and the efficiency of energy utilization in growth and development. As research progresses to better clarify the interactions among adipose tissue depots and muscle of different fiber types, pathways will become better understood, ultimately leading to the optimized management of fat and lean growth in domestic livestock species. This review will focus on elements of intercellular signaling, using data from cell culture studies to illustrate specific examples of signaling pathways between cells. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.