For both vertebrate developmental and evolutionary biologists, and also for clinicians, the neural crest (NC) is a fundamental cell population. An understanding of Sox10 function in NC development is of particular significance since Sox10 mutations underlie several neurocristopathies. Surprisingly, experiments in different model organisms aimed at identifying Sox10's role(s) have suggested at least four distinct functions. Sox10 may be critical for formation of neural crest cells (NCCs), maintaining multipotency of crest cells, specification of derivative cell fates from these cells and their differentiation. Here, I discuss this controversy and argue that these functions are, in part, molecularly interrelated. BioEssays 28: 788–798, 2006. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.