The galectins are a family of proteins that are distributed widely in all living organisms. All of them share galactose-specificity. At present, 14 members of the family are characterized in mammals. The galectins have been implicated in many essential functions including development, differentiation, cell-cell adhesion, cell-matrix interaction, growth regulation, apoptosis, RNA splicing, and tumor metastasis. Although efforts have mostly focused on the possible function of galectins in tumor development and invasiveness, their precise role in this field is still debated. This review discusses the recent way in which the expression of galectins and galectin-binding sites may affect the behavior of a variety of human neoplastic tissues.