Members of the Rho family of small Ras-like GTPases--including RhoA, -B, and -C, Rac1 and -2, and Cdc42--exhibit guanine nucleotide-binding activity and function as molecular switches, cycling between an inactive GDP-bound state and an active GTP-bound state. The Rho family GTPases participate in regulation of the actin cytoskeleton and cell adhesion through specific targets. Identification and characterization of these targets have begun to clarify how the Rho family GTPases act to regulate cytoskeletal structure and cell-cell and cell-substratum contacts in mammalian cells. The Rho family GTPases are also involved in regulation of smooth muscle contraction, cell morphology, cell motility, neurite retraction, and cytokinesis. However, the molecular mechanisms by which the Rho family GTPases participate in the regulation of such processes are not well established.