Reelin signalling in the early developing cortex regulates radial migration of cortical neurons. Later in development, Reelin promotes maturation of dendrites and dendritic spines. Finally, in the mature brain, it is involved in modulating synaptic function. In recent years, efforts to identify downstream signalling events induced by binding of Reelin to lipoprotein receptors led to the characterization of novel components of the Reelin signalling cascade. In the present review, we first address distinct functions of the Reelin receptors Apoer2 and Vldlr in cortical layer formation, followed by a discussion on the recently identified downstream effector molecule n-cofilin, involved in regulating actin cytoskeletal dynamics required for coordinated neuronal migration. Next, we discuss possible functions of the recently identified Reelin–Notch signalling crosstalk, and new aspects of the role of Reelin in the formation of the dentate radial glial scaffold. Finally, progress in characterizing the function of Reelin in modulating synaptic function in the adult brain is summarized. The present review has been inspired by a session entitled ‘Functions of Reelin in the developing and adult hippocampus’, held at the Spring Hippocampal Research Conference in Verona/Italy, June 2009.