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Ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) induces weight loss in obese rodents and humans, and for reasons that are not understood, its effects persist after the cessation of treatment. Here we demonstrate that centrally administered CNTF induces cell proliferation in feeding centers of the murine hypothalamus. Many of the newborn cells express neuronal markers and show functional phenotypes relevant for energy-balance control, including a capacity for leptin-induced phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3). Coadministration of the mitotic blocker cytosine-β-d-arabinofuranoside (Ara-C) eliminates the proliferation of neural cells and abrogates the long-term, but not the short-term, effect of CNTF on body weight. These findings link the sustained effect of CNTF on energy balance to hypothalamic neurogenesis and suggest that regulated hypothalamic neurogenesis in adult mice may play a previously unappreciated role in physiology and disease.