Both the innate and adaptive immune responses are dependent on the migration of leukocytes across endothelial cells. The process of diapedesis, in which the leukocyte crawls between tightly apposed endothelial cells, is a unique and complex process. Several molecules concentrated at the junctions of endothelial cells, originally described as having a role in holding the endothelial monolayer together, have also been shown to have a role in the emigration of leukocytes. Several mechanisms have been proposed for 'loosening' the junctions between endothelial cells to enable leukocyte passage. These leukocyte-endothelial-cell adhesion molecules are probably involved in regulating the signaling as well as the adhesion events of diapedesis. In addition, this Review introduces a new and unified nomenclature for the junctional adhesion molecule (JAM) family.