Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) is a glycoprotein enzyme that is produced in several cells and tissues. LPL belongs to a large lipase gene family that includes, among others, hepatic lipase and pancreatic lipase. After secretion, LPL becomes anchored on the luminal surface of the capillary endothelial cells. There it hydrolyzes triglycerides in triglyceride-rich lipoproteins, generating free fatty acids that can serve either as a direct energy source or can be stored. Through this action LPL plays a pivotal role both in energy and in lipoprotein metabolism. LPL production is regulated in a tissue-specific fashion by developmental, hormonal, and nutritional factors. The recent availability of the regulatory sequences of the LPL gene will greatly facilitate these regulatory studies in the future. In man, several mutations resulting in familial LPL deficiency have been delineated at a molecular level. The study of these mutations is not only very beneficial from a clinical point of view but also contributes in a major way to our understanding of the structure-function relationship of LPL and other lipases. In this review major attention is given to molecular studies relating to the regulation of LPL production, to the defects underlying LPL deficiency, and to structure-function relationship of the lipases.