The functions of lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) can be broadly divided into two classes: (1) physiological and (2) pathological roles. The role of LPA in embryonic development can be seen as early as oocyte formation. It continues in postnatal homeostasis, through its ability to impart a level of protection from both stress and local injury, by regulating cellular proliferation, apoptosis, and the reorganization of cytoskeletal fibers. LPA may function as a double-edged sword. While it helps maintain homeostasis against stress and insult, it may also augment the development and spread of pathological processes, including cancers.