An intact intestinal barrier, representing the interface between inner and outer environments, is an integral regulator of health. Among several factors, bacteria and their products have been evidenced to contribute to gut barrier impairment and its increased permeability. Alterations of tight junction integrity - caused by both external factors and host metabolic state - are important for gut barrier, since they can lead to increased influx of bacteria or bacterial components (endotoxin, bacterial DNA, metabolites) into the host circulation. Increased systemic levels of bacterial endotoxins and DNA have been associated with an impaired metabolic host status, manifested in obesity, insulin resistance, and associated cardiovascular complications. Bacterial components and cells are distributed to peripheral tissues via the blood stream, possibly contributing to metabolic diseases by increasing chronic pro-inflammatory signals at both tissue and systemic levels. This response is, along with other yet unknown mechanisms, mediated by toll like receptor (TLR) transduction and increased expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which in turn can further increase intestinal permeability leading to a detrimental positive feedback loop. The modulation of gut barrier function through nutritional and other interventions, including manipulation of gut microbiota, may represent a potential prevention and treatment target for metabolic diseases.