Glucocorticoids (GCs) and the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) are important regulators of development, inflammation, stress response and metabolism, demonstrated in various diseases including Addison's disease, Cushing's syndrome and by the many side effects of prolonged clinical administration of GCs. These conditions include severe metabolic challenges in key metabolic organs like the liver. In the liver, GR is known to regulate the transcription of key enzymes in glucose and lipid metabolism and contribute to the regulation of circadian-expressed genes. Insights to the modes of GR regulation and the underlying functional mechanisms are key for understanding diseases and for the development of improved clinical uses of GCs. The activity and function of GR is regulated at numerous levels including ligand availability, interaction with heat shock protein (HSP) complexes, expression of GR isoforms and posttranslational modifications. Moreover, recent genomics studies show functional interaction with multiple transcription factors (TF) and coregulators in complex transcriptional networks controlling cell type-specific gene expression by GCs. In this review we describe the different regulatory steps important for GR activity and discuss how different TF interaction partners of GR selectively control hepatic gene transcription and metabolism.