ADP-ribosyltransferases (ARTs) and ADP-ribosylhydrolases (ARHs) catalyze opposing reactions, which are termed ADP-ribosylation and de-ADP-ribosylation. ARTs transfer the ADP-ribose unit from NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) onto an acceptor, while ARHs release the ADP-ribose from the target. Like protein phosphorylation, ADP-ribosylation is a posttranslational modification regulating protein function. In many cases, ADP-ribosylation inactivates the target protein. Numerous bacterial toxins intoxicate cells by attaching an ADP-ribose moiety to a functionally important amino acid residue, thereby blocking the interaction of the target protein with other proteins. In other cases, ADP-ribosylation activates protein function. On the surface of T cells, ART2.2 ADP-ribosylates the P2X7 purinoceptor on arginine 125, thereby gating the P2X7 ion channel by presenting a ligand to its nucleotide-binding site. ADP-ribosylation is not limited to protein targets and ARTs have been described that ADP-ribosylate DNA, RNA, and small molecules. Mammalian cells express distinct families of ARTs and ARHs. Recently, molecular cloning, site directed mutagenesis and three-dimensional structural analyses of prototype mammalian ARTs and ARHs have shed fresh insight into the structure and function of these intriguing enzymes.