A major form of animal cell-cell adhesion results from the dynamic association of cadherin molecules, cytosolic catenins and actin microfilaments. Cadherins dynamically regulate the cytoskeleton. In turn, the actin cytoskeleton contributes to cadherin molecule oligomerization at cell contacts and to cell reshaping in response to environmental changes. Over the past two years, this evolutionarily conserved adhesion system has been intensively revisited in both its structural and functional aspects; this is illustrated by the remarkable progress in the determination of physical parameters of cadherin bonds (including force measurement) and the new insights into the role of alpha-catenin and the regulation of actin dynamics at cadherin contacts. Other recent studies uncover the important contribution of acto-myosin, microtubules and cell tension to adherens junction formation, cell differentiation and tissue reshaping/remodeling. An open challenge is now to integrate these new data with the diversity of cadherin adhesive complexes.