Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Phosphatases (RPTPs) belong to the superfamily of protein-tyrosine phosphatases and have the intrinsic ability to transduce signals across the cell membrane. We are beginning to understand the role of RPTPs in development of invertebrates, due to elegant genetic studies. In contrast, relatively little is known about the role of RPTPs in vertebrate development. Signalling by RPTPs has predominantly been studied in mammalian cell systems, which has led to important insights into potential ligands, into regulation of RPTP activity and into potential RPTP substrates. Here, we will introduce the RPTPs, and discuss the function of the LAR-subfamily of RPTPs. In addition, we focus on the function and signalling of the haematopoietic RPTP, CD45. Finally, we will discuss the structure and function of RPTPalpha, the RPTP that is the subject of our studies.