The cannabinoid CB1 receptor has been implicated in the regulation of appetite and the consumption of palatable foods. This experiment aimed to explore the involvement of the CB1 receptor in the early and late stages of high fat diet-induced obesity in C57BL/6 mice. The C57Bl/6 mice were placed on a high fat (HF) or low fat/high carbohydrate (LF) diet for 3 or 20 weeks. Quantitative autoradiography revealed that binding of [3H] CP-55,940 (CB1 receptor ligand) was elevated following 3 weeks of HF feeding in areas including the medial/ventral anterior olfactory nucleus (22.1%), agranular insular cortex (24.0%) and the hypothalamus (31.5%) compared to LF controls. This increased level of binding was correlated with an increase in plasma leptin in the hypothalamus, raising the possibility that this hormone may exert inhibitory control over endocannabinoid signalling at this stage of obesity. Mice fed a HF diet for 20 weeks were obese, hyperphagic and had decreased CB1 receptor binding levels in the substantia nigra (12.8%) and ventral tegmental area (17.1%) compared to LF controls. The low [3H] CP-55,940 binding density seen in these reward-related areas in the late stage of obesity may be indicative of increased endocannabinoid release due to the chronic HF diet consumption.