The retinoblastoma (Rb) gene was identified as the first tumor suppressor gene two decades ago. Since this initial discovery, it has become clear that deregulated Rb function constitutes a hallmark of human malignancies. Rb is a well-established regulator of the cell cycle. Rb has also been implicated in playing a role in a wide variety of cellular processes including DNA repair, cellular senescence, cell fate determination and apoptosis. Animals lacking Rb and/or its family members p107 and p130 have led scientists to uncover new and exciting roles for this protein family in development as well as tumor suppression. The ability to ablate Rb in a temporal and cell-type-specific manner has offered further, often unexpected, insights into Rb function. This review summarizes the phenotypic consequences of Rb family ablation in mice, and discusses how these findings contribute to the increasingly complex picture of Rb family function in development and tumor suppression.