Akt/PKB is a serine/threonine protein kinase that functions as a critical regulator of cell survival and proliferation. Akt/PKB family comprises three highly homologous members known as PKBα/Akt1, PKBβ/Akt2 and PKBγ/Akt3 in mammalian cells. Similar to many other protein kinases, Akt/PKB contains a conserved domain structure including a specific PH domain, a central kinase domain and a carboxyl-terminal regulatory domain that mediates the interaction between signaling molecules. Akt/PKB plays important roles in the signaling pathways in response to growth factors and other extracellular stimuli to regulate several cellular functions including nutrient metabolism, cell growth, apoptosis and survival. This review surveys recent developments in understanding the molecular mechanisms of Akt/PKB activation and its roles in cell survival in normal and cancer cells.