The phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) family of enzymes is recruited upon growth factor receptor activation and produces 3' phosphoinositide lipids. The lipid products of PI3K act as second messengers by binding to and activating diverse cellular target proteins. These events constitute the start of a complex signaling cascade, which ultimately results in the mediation of cellular activities such as proliferation, differentiation, chemotaxis, survival, trafficking, and glucose homeostasis. Therefore, PI3Ks play a central role in many cellular functions. The factors that determine which cellular function is mediated are complex and may be partly attributed to the diversity that exists at each level of the PI3K signaling cascade, such as the type of stimulus, the isoform of PI3K, or the nature of the second messenger lipids. Numerous studies have helped to elucidate some of the key factors that determine cell fate in the context of PI3K signaling. For example, the past two years has seen the publication of many transgenic and knockout mouse studies where either PI3K or its signaling components are deregulated. These models have helped to build a picture of the role of PI3K in physiology and indeed there have been a number of surprises. This review uses such models as a framework to build a profile of PI3K function within both the cell and the organism and focuses, in particular, on the role of PI3K in cell regulation, immunity, and development. The evidence for the role of deregulated PI3K signaling in diseases such as cancer and diabetes is reviewed.