© 2018 Elsevier Ltd The nutrient environment and metabolism play a dynamic role in cellular differentiation and research is elucidating the mechanisms that contribute to this process. Metabolites serve as an effective bridge that helps to translate information about nutrient states into specific interpretations of the genome. Part of this activity relates to the role for metabolites in regulating epigenetic processes as well as a newly appreciated role for metabolites in the regulation of genome organization. In this review, we will highlight recent research that has defined roles for metabolism in the organization and interpretation of the genome and how this influences cellular differentiation decisions. We will integrate information about how nutrients, such as glutamine, regulate metabolites, such as alpha-ketoglutarate, and highlight how these pathways influence epigenetic states as well as CTCF association and genome organization. We will also discuss mechanistic similarities and differences between normal differentiation states associated with embryonic stem (ES) cells and T cells and how this might relate to dysregulated states such as those associated with tumor infiltrating lymphocytes.