Protocadherins constitute the largest subgroup within the cadherin family of calcium-dependent cell-cell adhesion molecules. Recent progress in genome sequencing has enabled a refined phylogenetic analysis of protocadherins and led to the discovery of three large protocadherin clusters on human chromosome 5/mouse chromosome 18. Interestingly, many of the circa 70 protocadherins in mammals are highly expressed in the central nervous system. Roles in tissue morphogenesis and formation of neuronal circuits during early vertebrate development have been inferred. In the postnatal brain, protocadherins are possibly involved in the modulation of synaptic transmission and the generation of specific synaptic connections.