The nuclear localization of a number of growth factors, cytokine ligands and their receptors has been reported in various cell lines and tissues. These include members of the fibroblast growth factor (FGF), epidermal growth factor and growth hormone families. Accordingly, a number of nuclear functions have begun to emerge for these protein families. The demonstration of functional interactions of these proteins with the nuclear import machinery has further supported their functions as nuclear signal transducers. Here, we review the membrane- trafficking machinery and pathways demonstrated to regulate this cell surface to nucleus-trafficking event and highlight the many remaining unanswered questions. We focus on the FGF family, which is providing many of the clues as to the process of this unusual phenomenon.