Since the beginning of the last century, seminal discoveries have identified pyridine nucleotides as the major redox carriers in all organisms. Recent research has unravelled an unexpectedly wide array of signalling pathways that involve nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and its phosphorylated form, NADP. NAD serves as substrate for protein modification including protein deacetylation, and mono- and poly-ADP-ribosylation. Both NAD and NADP represent precursors of intracellular calcium-mobilizing molecules. It is now beyond doubt that NAD(P)-mediated signal transduction does not merely regulate metabolic pathways, but might hold a key position in the control of fundamental cellular processes. The comprehensive molecular characterization of NAD biosynthetic pathways over the past few years has further extended the understanding of the multiple roles of pyridine nucleotides in cell biology.