The obesity epidemic, including childhood obesity, is rapidly gaining strength as one of the most significant challenges to the health of the global community in the 21st Century. The proportion of women who are obese at the beginning of pregnancy is also increasing. These women and their babies are at high risk of pregnancy complications, and of programming for metabolic disease in adult life. In particular, maternal obesity is associated with aberrant fetal growth, encompassing both growth restricted and large for gestational age, or macrosomic fetuses. This article considers the potential effect of obesity and adipose tissue on placental nutrient exchange mechanisms in relation to aberrant fetal growth. The review emphasizes the dearth of work on this topic to date despite its importance to current and future healthcare of the population. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.