Malignant cells from at least 23 different types of cancer express the chemokine receptor CXCR4 and respond to its ligand CXCL12. This receptor ligand pair appears to be involved in directed migration of cancer cells to sites of metastasis, increased survival of cancer cells in sub optimal conditions and establishment of a tumour promoting cytokine/chemokine network. Preliminary data from animal models suggest that CXCR4 may be an important therapeutic target in a range of cancers. However CXCR4 plays major roles in embryogenesis, homeostasis and inflammation. This raises questions concerning the specificity of CXCR4 antagonists in the treatment of cancer.