Most obese animal models, whether associated with genetic, diet-induced, or age-related obesity, display pronounced leptin resistance, rendering leptin supplement therapy ineffective in treating obesity. Ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) has been recently used to invoke leptin-like signaling pathways, thereby circumventing leptin resistance. In the current study, we characterize immediate and long-term molecular events in the hypothalamus of rats exposed to the sustained ectopic expression of leptin, CNTF, or leukemia inhibitory factor, another neurocytokine of IL-6 family, all delivered centrally via a viral vector. The respective transgene-encoded ligands induced similar but not identical metabolic responses as assessed by the reduction in body weight gain and changes in food intake. To define molecular mechanisms of weight-reducing and anorexigenic action of cytokines, we have analyzed the gene expression profiles of 1300 brain-specific genes in the hypothalami of normal rats subjected to the prolonged cytokine action for 10 wk. We present evidence that constitutive expression of cytokines in the brain induces changes in gene expression characteristic of chronic inflammation leading to either temporal weight reduction (CNTF) or severe cachexia (leukemia inhibitory factor). Our results convey a cautionary note regarding potential use of the tested cytokines in therapeutic applications.