Interest in the diverse biology of protein tyrosine phosphatases that are encoded by more than 100 genes in the human genome continues to grow at an accelerated pace. In particular, two cytoplasmic protein tyrosine phosphatases composed of two Src homology 2 (SH2) NH2-terminal domains and a C-terminal protein-tyrosine phosphatase domain referred to as SHP-1 and SHP-2 are known to govern a host of cellular functions. SHP-1 and SHP-2 modulate progenitor cell development, cellular growth, tissue inflammation, and cellular chemotaxis, but more recently the role of SHP-1 and SHP-2 to directly control cell survival involving oxidative stress pathways has come to light. SHP-1 and SHP-2 are fundamental for the function of several growth factor and metabolic pathways yielding far reaching implications for disease pathways and disorders such as diabetes, neurodegeneration, and cancer. Although SHP-1 and SHP-2 can employ similar or parallel cellular pathways, these proteins also clearly exert opposing effects upon downstream cellular cascades that affect early and late apoptotic programs. SHP-1 and SHP-2 modulate cellular signals that involve phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, Akt, Janus kinase 2, signal transducer and activator of transcription proteins, mitogen-activating protein kinases, extracellular signal-related kinases, c-Jun-amino terminal kinases, and nuclear factor-kappaB. Our progressive understanding of the impact of SHP-1 and SHP-2 upon multiple cellular environments and organ systems should continue to facilitate the targeted development of treatments for a variety of disease entities.