Cadherins constitute a superfamily of cell adhesion molecules involved in cell-cell interaction, histogenesis and cellular transformation. They have been implicated in the development of various lineages, including derivatives of the neural crest. Neural crest cells (NCC) emerge from the dorsal part of the neural tube after an epithelio-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and migrate through the embryo. After homing and differentiation, NCC give rise to many cell types, such as neurons, Schwann cells and melanocytes. During these steps, the pattern of expression of the various cadherins studied is very dynamic. Cadherins also display plasticity of expression during the transformation of neural crest cell derivatives. Here, we review the pattern of expression and the role of the main cadherins involved in the development and transformation of neural crest cell derivatives. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.