Type II diabetes and its complications are a tremendous health burden throughout the world. Our understanding of the changes that lead to glucose imbalance and insulin resistance and ultimately diabetes remain incompletely understood. Many signaling and transcriptional pathways have been identified as being important to maintain normal glucose balance, including that of the peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma coactivator (PGC-1) family. This family of transcriptional coactivators strongly regulates mitochondrial and metabolic biology in numerous organs. The use of genetic models of PGC-1s, including both tissue-specific overexpression and knock-out models, has helped to reveal the specific roles that these coactivators play in each tissue. This review will thus focus on the PGC-1s and recently developed genetic rodent models that have highlighted the importance of these molecules in maintaining normal glucose homeostasis. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media.