Long alpha-helical coiled-coil proteins are involved in a variety of organizational and regulatory processes in eukaryotic cells. They provide cables and networks in the cyto- and nucleoskeleton, molecular scaffolds that organize membrane systems, motors, levers, rotating arms and possibly springs. A growing number of human diseases are found to be caused by mutations in long coiled-coil proteins. This review summarizes our current understanding of the multifaceted group of long coiled-coil proteins in the cytoskeleton, nucleus, Golgi and cell division apparatus. The biophysical features of coiled-coil domains provide first clues toward their contribution to the diverse protein functions and promise potential future applications in the area of nanotechnology. Combining the power of fully sequenced genomes and structure prediction algorithms, it is now possible to comprehensively summarize and compare the complete inventory of coiled-coil proteins of different organisms.