The MED1 subunit has been shown to mediate ligand-dependent binding of the Mediator coactivator complex to multiple nuclear receptors, including the adipogenic PPAR, and to play an essential role in ectopic PPAR-induced adipogenesis of mouse embryonic fibroblasts. However, the precise roles of MED1, and its various domains, at various stages of adipogenesis and in adipose tissue have been unclear. Here, after establishing requirements for MED1, including specific domains, for differentiation of 3T3L1 cells and both primary white and brown preadipocytes, we used multiple genetic approaches to assess requirements for MED1 in adipocyte formation, maintenance, and function in mice. We show that MED1 is indeed essential for the differentiation and/or function of both brown and white adipocytes, as its absence in these cells leads to, respectively, defective brown fat function and lipodystrophy. This work establishes MED1 as an essential transcriptional coactivator that ensures homeostatic functions of adipocytes.