This article reviews recent advances in the knowledge of the role of L-selectin, an adhesion molecule that is expressed on the surface of circulating leucocytes, in animal and human physiology and pathophysiology. After a brief discussion on nomenclature and structure, it progresses through the evidence for expression and regulation of L-selectin, cell collection and purification, physiological function and roles. The special role of knock out mice and monoclonal antibodies in determining a role for L-selectin in inflammatory states is described before proceeding to discuss the importance of L-selectin ligands and shed L-selectin. A second section describes a role for L-selectin in pathophysiological states in animals and man, with special reference to trauma, systemic inflammatory syndromes and sepsis. The review concludes with a summary of the potential role of anti-inflammatory medication and L-selectin blockers in the management of inflammation.