During development and carcinogenesis, the gradient of different molecular factors, the availability of corresponding receptors and the interplay between different signalling cascades combine to orchestrate the different stages. A good understanding of both developmental processes and oncogenesis leads to new insights into normal and aberrant regulation, processes that share some mutual key players. In this review, we will focus on the Snail family of transcription factors. These proteins, which share an evolutionarily conserved role in invertebrates and vertebrates, are implicated in several developmental processes, but are involved in carcinogenesis as well. We will highlight the different signalling cascades leading to the expression of Snail and Slug and how these factors are regulated on the transcriptional level. Then we will focus on how these factors execute their functions by repression of the numerous target genes that have been described to date.