Perhaps in keeping with their enigmatic name, 14-3-3 proteins offer a seemingly bewildering array of opportunities for interaction with signal transduction pathways. In each organism there are many isoforms that can form both homo- and heterodimers, and many biochemical activities have been attributed to the 14-3-3 group. The potential for diversity-and also confusion-is high. The mammalian literature on 14-3-3 proteins provides an appropriate context to appreciate the potential roles of 14-3-3s in plant signal transduction pathways. In addition, functional and structural themes emerge when 14-3-3s are examined and compiled in ways that draw attention to their participation in protein phosphorylation and protein-protein interactions. These themes allow examination of plant 14-3-3s from two perspectives: the ways in which plant 14-3- 3s contribute to and extend ideas already described in animals, and the ways that plant 14-3-3s present unique contributions to the field. The crystal structure of an animal 14-3- 3 has been solved. When considered with the evolutionary stability of large segments of the 14-3-3 protein, the structure illuminates several aspects of 14-3-3 function. However, diversity in other regions of the 14-3-3s and their presence as multigene families offer many opportunities for cell-specific specialization of individual functions.