Microtubule nucleation is the process in which several tubulin molecules interact to form a microtubule seed. Microtubule nucleation occurs spontaneously in purified tubulin solutions, and molecular intermediates between tubulin dimers and microtubules have been identified. Microtubule nucleation is enhanced in tubulin solutions by the addition of gamma-tubulin or various gamma-tubulin complexes. In vivo, microtubule assembly is usually seeded by gamma-tubulin ring complexes. Recent studies suggest, however, that microtubule nucleation can occur in the absence of gamma-tubulin, and that gamma-tubulin may have other cell functions apart from being a major component of the gamma-tubulin ring complex.