The p21-activated kinases (PAKs) are signal transducers, central to many vital cellular processes, including cell morphology, motility, survival, gene transcription and hormone signalling. The mammalian PAK family contains six serine/threonine kinases divided into two subgroups, group I (PAK 1-3) and group II (PAK4-6), based on their domain architecture and regulation. PAKs functioning as dynamic signalling nodes present themselves as attractive therapeutic targets in tumours, neurological diseases and infection. The recent findings across all PAKs, including newly reported structures, shed light on the cellular functions of PAKs, highlighting molecular mechanisms of activation, catalysis and substrate specificity. We believe that a comprehensive understanding of the entire PAK family is essential for developing strategies towards PAK-targeted therapeutics.