The low-affinity p75 molecule and trk tyrosine kinases serve as receptors for target-derived neurotrophins. While the mechanism by which receptor tyrosine kinases impart intracellular signaling has become well understood, the precise roles of the p75 receptor are not fully defined. The p75 neurotrophin receptor belongs to a family of transmembrane molecules which also serve as receptors for the tumor necrosis factor family of cytokines. Each receptor shares a common extracellular structure highlighted by conserved cysteine-rich repeats. Because NGF, BDNF, NT-3, and NT-4/5 bind to p75 with similar affinity, p75 may either act as a common subunit in a neurotrophin receptor complex with trk family members, or act by independent mechanisms to mediate biological actions of each neurotrophin. 1994 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.