Nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) transcription factors are evolutionarily conserved, coordinating regulators of immune and inflammatory responses. They also play a pivotal role in oncogenesis and metabolic disorders. Several studies during the past two decades have highlighted the key role of the IKK/NF-κB pathway in the induction and maintenance of the state of inflammation that underlies metabolic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Recent reports, however, reveal an even more intimate connection between NF-κB and metabolism. These studies demonstrate that NF-κB regulates energy homeostasis via direct engagement of the cellular networks governing glycolysis and respiration, with profound implications beyond metabolic diseases, including cancer, ageing and anticancer therapy. In this review, we discuss these emerging bioenergetic functions of NF-κB and their significance to oncogenesis.