The global epidemic of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and steatohepatitis (NASH) and the high prevalence among individuals with type 2 diabetes has attracted the attention of clinicians specialising in liver disorders. Many drugs are in the pipeline for the treatment of NAFLD/NASH, and several glucose-lowering drugs are now being tested specifically for the treatment of liver disease. Among these are nuclear hormone receptor agonists (e.g. peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor agonists, farnesoid X receptor agonists and liver X receptor agonists), fibroblast growth factor-19 and -21, single, dual or triple incretins, sodium-glucose cotransporter inhibitors, drugs that modulate lipid or other metabolic pathways (e.g. inhibitors of fatty acid synthase, diacylglycerol acyltransferase-1, acetyl-CoA carboxylase and 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type-1) or drugs that target the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier. We have reviewed the metabolic effects of these drugs in relation to improvement of diabetic hyperglycaemia and fatty liver disease, as well as peripheral metabolism and insulin resistance.