The Eph receptors are the largest known family of receptor tyrosine kinases. The Eph receptors and their membrane-attached ligands, ephrins, show diverse expression patterns during development. Recent studies have demonstrated that Eph receptors and ephrins play important roles in many developmental processes, including neuronal network formation, the patterning of the neural tube and the paraxial mesoderm, the guidance of cell migration, and vascular formation. In the nervous system, Eph receptors and ephrins have been shown to act as positional labels to establish topographic projections. They also play a key role in pathway finding by axons and neural crest cells. The crucial roles of Eph receptors and ephrins during development suggest involvement of these genes in congenital disorders affecting the nervous system and other tissues. It has also been suggested that Eph receptors and ephrins may be involved in carcinogenesis. It is therefore of clinical importance to further analyse the function of these molecules, as manipulation of their function may have therapeutic applications.