Nuclear lamins are intermediate filament proteins that polymerize to form the nuclear lamina on the inner aspect of the inner nuclear membrane. Long known to be essential for maintaining nuclear structure and disassembling/reassembling during mitosis in metazoans, research over the past dozen years has shown that mutations in genes encoding nuclear lamins, particularly LMNA encoding the A-type lamins, cause a broad range of diverse diseases, often referred to as laminopathies. Lamins are expressed in all mammalian somatic cells but mutations in their genes lead to relatively tissue-selective disease phenotypes in most cases. While mutations causing laminopathies have been shown to produce abnormalities in nuclear morphology, how these disease-causing mutations or resultant alterations in nuclear structure lead to pathology is only starting to be understood. Despite the incomplete understanding of pathogenic mechanisms underlying the laminopathies, basic research in cellular and small animal models has produced promising leads for treatments of these rare diseases. Copyright © 2011 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.