The peptidyl-prolyl cis/trans isomerase (PPIase) class of proteins comprises three member families that are found throughout nature and are present in all the major compartments of the cell. Their numbers appear to be linked to the number of genes in their respective genomes, although we have found the human repertoire to be smaller than expected due to a reduced cyclophilin repertoire. We show here that whilst the members of the cyclophilin family (which are predominantly found in the nucleus and cytoplasm) and the parvulin family (which are predominantly nuclear) are largely conserved between different repertoires, the FKBPs (which are predominantly found in the cytoplasm and endoplasmic reticulum) are not. It therefore appears that the cyclophilins and parvulins have evolved to perform conserved functions, while the FKBPs have evolved to fill ever-changing niches within the constantly evolving organisms. Many orthologous subgroups within the different PPIase families appear to have evolved from a distinct common ancestor, whereas others, such as the mitochondrial cyclophilins, appear to have evolved independently of one another. We have also identified a novel parvulin within Drosophila melanogaster that is unique to the fruit fly, indicating a recent evolutionary emergence. Interestingly, the fission yeast repertoire, which contains no unique cyclophilins and parvulins, shares no PPIases solely with the budding yeast but it does share a majority with the higher eukaryotes in this study, unlike the budding yeast. It therefore appears that, in comparison with Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a poor representation of the higher eukaryotes for the study of PPIases. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.