The thrombospondins (TSPs) are a family of five proteins that are involved in the tissue remodeling that is associated with embryonic development, wound healing, synaptogenesis, and neoplasia. These proteins mediate the interaction of normal and neoplastic cells with the extracellular matrix and surrounding tissue. In the tumor microenvironment, TSP-1 has been shown to suppress tumor growth by inhibiting angiogenesis and by activating transforming growth factor beta. TSP-1 inhibits angiogenesis through direct effects on endothelial cell migration and survival, and through effects on vascular endothelial cell growth factor bioavailability. In addition, TSP-1 may affect tumor cell function through interaction with cell surface receptors and regulation of extracellular proteases. Whereas the role of TSP-1 in the tumor microenvironment is the best characterized, the other TSPs may have similar functions. (Part of a Multi-author Review).