The transient receptor potential (TRP) superfamily comprises a group of non-selective cation channels that sense and respond to changes in their local environments. TRP channels are found in many eukaryotes, from yeast to mammals. They are a diverse group of proteins organized into six families: classical (TRPC), vanilloid (TRPV), melastatin (TRPM), muclopins (TRPML), polycystin (TRPP), and ANKTM1 (TRPA). In the peripheral nervous system, stimuli including temperature, pressure, inflammatory agents, and receptor activation effect TRP-mediated responses. In the central nervous system, TRPs participate in neurite outgrowth, receptor signalling and excitotoxic cell death resulting from anoxia. TRP channels are emerging as essential cellular switches that allow animals to respond to their environments.