The parvins are a family of proteins involved in linking integrins and associated proteins with intracellular pathways that regulate actin cytoskeletal dynamics and cell survival. Both alpha-parvin (PARVA) and beta-parvin (PARVB) localize to focal adhesions and function in cell adhesion, spreading, motility and survival through interactions with partners, such as integrin-linked kinase (ILK), paxillin, alpha-actinin and testicular kinase 1. A complex of PARVA with ILK and the LIM protein PINCH-1 is critical for cell survival in a variety of cells, including certain cancer cells, kidney podocytes and cardiac myocytes. While PARVA inhibits the activities of Rac1 and testicular kinase 1 and cell spreading, PARVB binds alphaPIX and alpha-actinin, and can promote cell spreading. In contrast to PARVA, PARVB inhibits ILK activity and reverses some of its oncogenic effects in cancer cells. This review focuses on the structure and function of the parvins and some possible roles in human diseases.