Tight junctions are important for the permeability properties of epithelial and endothelial barriers as they restrict diffusion along the paracellular space. Recent observations have revealed that tight junctions also function in the regulation of epithelial proliferation and differentiation. They harbour evolutionarily conserved protein complexes that regulate polarisation and junction assembly. Tight junctions also recruit signalling proteins that participate in the regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation. These signalling proteins include components that affect established signalling cascades and dual localisation proteins that can associate with junctions as well as travel to the nucleus where they regulate gene expression.