The understanding of idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) has evolved over the past few years. Previously, IIH was considered a disease exclusively affecting the neuro-ophthalmic axis, characterized by raised intracranial pressure, headache and papilloedema, and resulting in the risk of severe and permanent visual loss and life-changing disabling headaches. Recent advances have begun to redefine IIH as a probable metabolic disease involving a range of systemic manifestations. More than 95% of individuals affected by the disease are women of reproductive age with obesity. The incidence is rapidly rising and parallels the escalating worldwide obesity rates. Contemporary insights identify associations with insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and a twofold increased risk of cardiovascular disease in excess of that driven by obesity alone. Adipose distribution in people with IIH, like that in other metabolic diseases, is preferentially centripetal and is associated with changes in intracranial pressure. Evidence now demonstrates adipose tissue dysfunction in people with IIH, involving transcriptional and metabolic priming for lipogenesis and weight gain. Hormonal perturbations are also observed, including a unique phenotype of androgen excess that promotes cerebrospinal fluid secretion. Knowledge of these additional disease features is driving research into novel therapeutic targets and altering the approach to multidisciplinary care.