Converging studies from many investigators indicate that RUNX1 has a critical role in the correct maintenance of essential cellular functions during embryonic development and after birth. The discovery that this gene is also frequently mutated in human leukemia has increased the interest in the role that RUNX1 plays in both normal and transforming pathways. Here, we provide an overview of the many roles of RUNX1 in hematopoietic self-renewal and differentiation and summarize the information that is currently available on the many mechanisms of RUNX1 deregulation in human leukemia. J. Cell. Physiol. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.