Serum amyloid A (SAA), the precursor protein in inflammation-associated reactive amyloidosis (AA-type), is an acute phase reactant whose level in the blood increases in response to various insults. It is expressed in the liver, but its physiological role is not well understood. Recently, a broader view of SAA expression and function has been emerging. Expression studies show local production of SAA proteins in histologically normal, atherosclerotic, Alzheimer, inflammatory, and tumor tissues. Binding sites in the SAA protein for high density lipoproteins, calcium, laminin, and heparin/heparan-sulfate were described. Adhesion motifs were identified and new functions, affecting cell adhesion, migration, proliferation and aggregation have been described. These findings emphasize the importance of SAA in various physiological and pathological processes, including inflammation, atherosclerosis, thrombosis, AA-amyloidosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and neoplasia. In addition, recent experiments suggest that SAA may play a "housekeeping" role in normal human tissues.