New insights into mammalian zinc metabolism have been acquired through the identification and characterization of zinc transporters. These proteins all have transmembrane domains, and are encoded by two solute-linked carrier (SLC) gene families: ZnT (SLC30) and Zip (SLC39). There are at least 9 ZnT and 15 Zip transporters in human cells. They appear to have opposite roles in cellular zinc homeostasis. ZnT transporters reduce intracellular zinc availability by promoting zinc efflux from cells or into intracellular vesicles, while Zip transporters increase intracellular zinc availability by promoting extracellular zinc uptake and, perhaps, vesicular zinc release into the cytoplasm. Both the ZnT and Zip transporter families exhibit unique tissue-specific expression, differential responsiveness to dietary zinc deficiency and excess, and differential responsiveness to physiologic stimuli via hormones and cytokines.