c-myc, N-myc and L-myc are the three members of the myc oncoprotein family whose role in the pathogenesis of many human neoplastic diseases has received wide empirical support. In this review, we first summarize data, derived mainly from non-clinical studies, indicating that these oncoproteins actually serve quite different roles in vivo. This concept necessarily lies at the heart of the basis for the observation that the deregulated expression of each MYC gene is reproducibly associated with only certain naturally occurring malignancies in humans and that these genes are not interchangeable with respect to their aberrant functional consequences. We also review evidence implicating each of the above MYC genes in specific neoplastic diseases and have attempted to identify unresolved questions which deserve further basic or clinical investigation. We have made every attempt to review those diseases for which significant and confirmatory evidence, based on studies with primary tumor material, exists to implicate MYC members in their causation and/or progression.