Id proteins (inhibitors of DNA binding/differentiation) are negative regulators of basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) type transcription factors, which promote the differentiation of various cell types. In addition to their “classical” ability to inhibit cell differentiation, they are able to stimulate cell cycle progression. These facts suggest that Id proteins play a role in keeping precursor cells immature and in expanding the cell population size during development. In vitro as well as in vivo analyses in the last several years have shown that Id proteins have more complex activities; they induce apoptosis or function as survival factors, depending on the cell context. Furthermore, dysregulated expression of Id proteins has been reported in several human tumors and seems to be related to the malignant character of tumors. Here, we summarize and discuss the biological activities of Id proteins from the standpoint of cell growth control. J. Cell. Physiol. 190: 21–28, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.