Cell-membrane-located receptor kinases play important roles in many plant signal-transduction pathways. Exciting progress has been made in recent years with the characterization of four ligand-receptor systems involved in physiological processes as diverse as self-pollen rejection, stem-cell maintenance and differentiation at the shoot meristem, the response to the brassinosteroid hormones and the innate response to bacterial pathogens. These new findings emphasize the remarkably high diversity of these signalling pathways, although some downstream components are shared. This observation supports the idea that the wide diversification of plant receptors is associated with a high degree of specialization, one receptor potentially regulating a single developmental process. However, the possibility that one receptor might have a dual recognition function cannot be ruled out.