Homeostasis is a specialized form of regulation that precisely maintains the function of a system at a set point level of activity. Recently, homeostatic signaling has been suggested to control neural activity through the modulation of synaptic efficacy and membrane excitability ( Davis & Goodman 1998a, Turrigiano & Nelson 2000, Marder & Prinz 2002, Perez-Otano & Ehlers 2005 ). In this way, homeostatic signaling is thought to constrain neural plasticity and contribute to the stability of neural function over time. Using a restrictive definition of homeostasis, this review first evaluates the phenomenological and molecular evidence for homeostatic signaling in the nervous system. Then, basic principles underlying the design and molecular implementation of homeostatic signaling are reviewed on the basis of work in other, simplified biological systems such as bacterial chemotaxis and the heat shock response. Data from these systems are then discussed in the context of homeostatic signaling in the nervous system.