1. In the present brief review, we describe some of the molecular and functional characteristics of a novel mammalian family of putative Ca2+-activated chloride channels (CLCA). 2. So far, two bovine (bCLC1; bCLCA2 (Lu-ECAM-1)), three mouse (mCLCA1; mCLCA2; mCLCA3) and four human (hCLCA1; hCLCA2; hCLCA3; hCLCA4) CLCA family members have been cloned. Each CLCA exhibits a distinct, often overlapping, tissue expression pattern. 3. With the exception of the truncated secreted hCLCA3, all CLCA proteins are synthesized as an approximately 125 kDa precursor transmembrane glycoprotein that is rapidly cleaved into 90 and 35 kDa subunits. 4. The CLCA proteins expressed on the luminal surface of lung vascular endothelia (bCLCA2; mCLCA1; hCLCA2) serve as adhesion molecules for lung metastatic cancer cells, mediating vascular arrest and lung colonization. 5. Expression of hCLCA2 in normal mammary epithelium is consistently lost in human breast cancer and in all tumorigenic breast cancer cell lines. Re-expression of hCLCA2 in human breast cancer cells abrogates invasiveness of Matrigel (BD Biosciences-Labware, Bedford, MA, USA) in vitro and tumorigenicity in nude mice, implying that hCLCA2 acts as a tumour suppressor in breast cancer.