Synapses are adhesive junctions highly specialized for interneuronal signalling in the central nervous system. The strength of the synaptic signal can be modified (synaptic plasticity), a key feature of the cellular changes thought to underlie learning and memory. Cell-adhesion molecules are important constituents of synapses, with well-recognized roles in building and maintaining synaptic structure during brain development. However, growing evidence indicates that cell-adhesion molecules also play important and diverse roles in regulating synaptic plasticity and learning and memory. This review focuses on recent advances in understanding the molecular mechanisms through which adhesion molecules might regulate synaptic plasticity.