The Society for Developmental Biology 64th annual meeting took place by the beautiful San Francisco Bay from July 27th to August 1st, 2005. Organized under the leadership of Judith Kimble (SDB President, U. Wisconsin-Madison), the meeting attracted over one thousand developmental biologists from all over the world. They gathered to present data, exchange ideas and enjoy basking in the warm sun on the piers. Strong themes emerged from the diverse subjects discussed at the meeting, demonstrating exciting trends towards the unifying goal of understanding the progression from a single cell to an adult organism. Cell and Tissue Polarity was a recurring topic at the meeting. Questions like "is there polarity", "how is it achieved" and "how is it linked to stem cell maintenance" were discussed. Post-transcriptional regulation involving protein degradation and microRNA (miRNA) modulation of gene expression was featured in the context of transition between meiosis to mitosis and asymmetries in the embryo. It is apparent that Evolutionary Developmental Biology, once a major driving influence in the early days of the field, continues to enjoy a renaissance as researchers familiar with traditional model organisms are increasingly attracted to the field and as modern genetic and molecular approaches are applied to an increasingly varied assortment of organisms. The attention is beginning to pay off as laboratories are starting to generate significant results shedding light into how developmental programs are altered to generate morphological diversity. In the Satellite Symposium on Plant Development held on July 27th, 2005, the overriding theme was on the identity and maintenance of Stem Cells in Plants. Finally, researchers working on diverse organisms have shown a strong effort to address Developmental Coordination: on the subcellular, cellular and tissue levels. Advanced imaging techniques are combined with traditional genetic methods to scrutinize and compare dynamic processes in four dimensions. This tremendous increase in resolution has facilitated the identification of key signaling mechanisms that embryos utilize to form coordinated body plans. For an exceptional effort in keeping with Society tradition, the 2005 annual meeting also offered opportunities to address broader issues revolving around education and professional development as well as a special session on embryonic stem cell research. Throughout the 5-day meeting, participants found time to honor the contributions of colleagues, exchange career and grant planning strategies, contemplate the big picture and recognize the efforts of young investigators, postdoctoral fellows and students.