For much of the 20th century, lactate was largely considered a dead-end waste product of glycolysis due to hypoxia, the primary cause of the O2 debt following exercise, a major cause of muscle fatigue, and a key factor in acidosis-induced tissue damage. Since the 1970s, a 'lactate revolution' has occurred. At present, we are in the midst of a lactate shuttle era; the lactate paradigm has shifted. It now appears that increased lactate production and concentration as a result of anoxia or dysoxia are often the exception rather than the rule. Lactic acidosis is being re-evaluated as a factor in muscle fatigue. Lactate is an important intermediate in the process of wound repair and regeneration. The origin of elevated [lactate] in injury and sepsis is being re-investigated. There is essentially unanimous experimental support for a cell-to-cell lactate shuttle, along with mounting evidence for astrocyte-neuron, lactate-alanine, peroxisomal and spermatogenic lactate shuttles. The bulk of the evidence suggests that lactate is an important intermediary in numerous metabolic processes, a particularly mobile fuel for aerobic metabolism, and perhaps a mediator of redox state among various compartments both within and between cells. Lactate can no longer be considered the usual suspect for metabolic 'crimes', but is instead a central player in cellular, regional and whole body metabolism. Overall, the cell-to-cell lactate shuttle has expanded far beyond its initial conception as an explanation for lactate metabolism during muscle contractions and exercise to now subsume all of the other shuttles as a grand description of the role(s) of lactate in numerous metabolic processes and pathways.