There is increasing evidence both in humans and rodents linking the endogenous estrogen 17b-estradiol (E2) to the maintenance of glucose homeostasis. Postmenopausal women develop visceral obesity and insulin resistance and are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus, but hormone replacement therapy leads to a reduction in the incidence of diabetes. In various spontaneous rodent models of type 2 diabetes, female rodents are protected against hyperglycemia unless they are ovariectomized, and E2 perfusion reverses diabetes in male rodents. Finally, the study of transgenic mice and mice with genetic alteration of E2 secretion or E2 action has shed light on the antidiabetic properties of E2 at a tissue-specific level. Thus, E2 secretion and action in rodents seems to be implicated 1) in adipose tissue biology and the prevention of obesity, 2) in the stimulation of liver fatty acid metabolism and suppression of hepatic glucose production, and 3) in the protection of pancreatic b-cell function/survival and insulin secretion in conditions of oxidative stress.