The p21 activated kinases (Paks), an evolutionarily conserved family of serine/threonine kinases, are important for a variety of cellular functions including cell morphogenesis, motility, survival, mitosis, and angiogenesis. Paks are widely expressed in numerous tissues and are activated by growth factors and extracellular signals through GTPase-dependent and -independent mechanisms. Overexpression of Paks in epithelial cancer cells has been shown to increase migration potential, increase anchorage independent growth, and cause abnormalities in mitosis. Dysregulation of Paks has been reported in several human tumors and neurodegenerative diseases. A growing list of novel Pak interacting proteins has opened up exciting avenues of investigation by which to understand the functions of Paks in tumorigenesis. In this review, we will summarize the current knowledge of the Paks family with respect to emerging cellular functions and possible contributions to cancer. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.