Centrioles are essential for the formation of microtubule-derived structures, including cilia, flagella and centrosomes. These structures are involved in a variety of functions, from cell motility to division. In most dividing animal cells, centriole formation is coupled to the chromosome cycle. However, this is not the case in certain specialized divisions, such as meiosis, and in some differentiating cells. For example, oocytes loose their centrioles upon differentiation, whereas multiciliated epithelial cells make several of those structures after they exit the cell cycle. Aberrations of centriole number are seen in many cancer cells. Recent studies began to shed light on the molecular control of centriole number, its variations in development, and how centriole number changes in human disease. Here we review the recent developments in this field.