Survivin is a novel member of the inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) protein family, and its aberrant expression in cancer cells has been shown to be associated with tumorigenesis, cancer progression, radiation/drug resistance and shorter patient survival. Survivin is also expressed in certain human adult tissues and cells, and has been shown to play a role in physiology. Interestingly, targeting survivin for cancer treatment did not show obvious toxicity to normal tissues and cells. This suggests that the mechanism for the regulation and function of survivin may actually be different in cancer cells as compared to normal cells. This review intends to summarize the most important information about the transcriptional and/or post-transcriptional controls of survivin in cancer cells. Further studies along this line may find essential interfaces for the development of novel approaches for cancer therapeutics.