We have used the (nearly) completed eukaryotic genome sequences to trace the evolution of thirteen families of established vertebrate regulators of type-1 protein phosphatases (PP1). Two of these families are present in all lineages of the eukaryotic crown and therefore qualify as candidate primordial regulators that determined the surface of PP1. The set of regulators of PP1 has continued to expand ever since, often in response to functional innovations in different eukaryotic lineages. In particular, the development of metazoan multicellularity was accompanied by an explosive increase in the number of regulators of PP1. The further increase in the functional diversity of PP1 in the vertebrate lineage was mainly achieved by the duplication of genes for regulatory subunits and by the conversion of already existing proteins into regulators of PP1. Unexpectedly, our analysis has also enabled us to classify nine poorly characterized proteins as likely regulators of PP1. BioEssays 24:371–381, 2002. ©2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.