In humans, the Janus protein tyrosine kinase family (JAKs) contains four members: JAK1, JAK2, JAK3 and TYK2. JAKs phosphorylate signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs) simultaneously with other phosphorylations required for activation, and there are several cellular mechanisms in place to inhibit JAK/STAT signaling. That one might be able to modulate selected JAK/STAT-mediated cellular signals by inhibiting JAK kinase activity to effect a positive therapeutic outcome is a tantalizing prospect, as yet incompletely realized. While current data suggest no therapeutic use for JAK1 and TYK2 inhibition, JAK2 inhibition seems a promising but not definitively tested mechanism for treatment of leukemia. More promising, however, are data indicating a possible therapeutic use of JAK3 inhibition. The restriction of the JAK3-deficient phenotype to the hematopoietic system and the resulting profound immune suppression suggest that JAK3 could be a target for immunosuppressive therapies used to prevent organ transplant rejection.