Obesity is characterised by hyperleptinaemia and hypoadiponectinaemia and these metabolic abnormalities may contribute to the progression of several obesity-associated cancers including oesophageal adenocarcinoma (OAC). We have examined the effects of leptin and adiponectin on OE33 OAC cells. Leptin stimulated proliferation, invasion and migration and inhibited apoptosis in a STAT3-dependant manner. Leptin-stimulated MMP-2 secretion in a partly STAT3-dependent manner and MMP-9 secretion via a STAT3-independent pathway. Adiponectin inhibited leptin-induced proliferation, migration, invasion, MMP secretion and reduced the anti-apoptotic effects: these effects of adiponectin were ameliorated by both a non-specific tyrosine phosphatase inhibitor and a specific PTP1B inhibitor. Adiponectin reduced leptin-stimulated JAK2 activation and STAT3 transcriptional activity in a PTP1B-sensitive manner and adiponectin increased both PTP1B protein and activity. We conclude that adiponectin restrains leptin-induced signalling and pro-carcinogenic behaviour by inhibiting the early events in leptin-induced signal transduction by activating PTP1B. Relative adiponectin deficiency in obesity may contribute to the promotion of OAC.