This review summarizes recent advances concerning the Nedd8 regulatory pathway in four areas. One, substantial progress has been made in delineating the role of cullin family proteins, the only known substrates of the Nedd8 modification system. Cullins are molecular scaffolds responsible for assembling the ROC1/Rbx1 RING-based E3 ubiquitin ligases, of which several play a direct role in tumorigenesis. Two, a large body of work has helped elucidate the molecular details underlying the Nedd8 modification reaction, which results in covalent conjugation of a Nedd8 moiety onto a conserved cullin lysine residue. Three, studies using a variety of genetic model systems have established an essential role for Nedd8 in cell cycle control and in embryogenesis by upregulating the activities of cullin-based E3 ligases. In vitro experiments have revealed a direct role for Nedd8 in activating ubiquitination. Construction of a model of the ROC1/Rbx1-CUL1-Nedd8 structure suggests a mechanism by which the cullin-linked Nedd8 may assist the neighboring ROC1/Rbx1 in landing and positioning the E2 conjugating enzyme for the ubiquitin transfer reaction. Finally, increasing evidence indicates that removal of Nedd8 from its cullin targets, by the action of COP9 Signalosome and possibly other proteases, plays a significant role in the regulation of cullin-mediated proteolysis.