p73 is a member of the p53 family which is gaining increasing importance in the field of cancer. Its structural homology with p53 led to the assumption that it could act as a new tumour suppressor gene. Increasing knowledge of its function, however, has cast doubts on this role. A particularly interesting characteristic of p73 is that the cell contains different isoforms with distinct and sometimes opposite functions. Evidence in the last few years clearly indicates that p73 does share some activities with p53 but also that it has some distinct functions. This review focuses on p73's role in the development and progression of cancer, analysing the gene structure and regulation and discussing similarities with p53 and differences. Recent results obtained with specific detection methods on the levels and functions of the different isoforms in tumours are also discussed.