The basement membrane is a highly intricate and organized portion of the extracellular matrix that interfaces with a variety of cell types including epithelial, endothelial, muscle, nerve, and fat cells. The laminin family of glycoproteins is a major constituent of the basement membrane. The 16 known laminin isoforms are formed from combinations of alpha, beta, and gamma chains, with each chain containing specific domains capable of interacting with cellular receptors such as integrins and other extracellular ligands. In addition to its role in the assembly and architectural integrity of the basement membrane, laminins interact with cells to influence proliferation, differentiation, adhesion, and migration, processes activated in normal and pathologic states. In vitro these functions are regulated by the post-translational modifications of the individual laminin chains. In vivo laminin knockout mouse studies have been particularly instructive in defining the function of specific laminins in mammalian development and have also highlighted its role as a key component of the basement membrane. In this review, we will define how laminin structure complements function and explore its role in both normal and pathologic processes.