Formins, proteins defined by the presence of an FH2 domain and their ability to nucleate linear F-actin de novo, play a key role in the regulation of the cytoskeleton. Initially thought to primarily regulate actin, recent studies have highlighted a role for formins in the regulation of microtubule dynamics, and most recently have uncovered the ability of some formins to coordinate the organization of both the microtubule and actin cytoskeletons. While biochemical analyses of this family of proteins have yielded many insights into how formins regulate diverse cytoskeletal reorganizations, we are only beginning to appreciate how and when these functional properties are relevant to biological processes in a developmental or organismal context. Developmental genetic studies in fungi, Dictyostelium, vertebrates, plants and other model organisms have revealed conserved roles for formins in cell polarity, actin cable assembly and cytokinesis. However, roles have also been discovered for formins that are specific to particular organisms. Thus, formins perform both global and specific functions, with some of these roles concurring with previous biochemical data and others exposing new properties of formins. While not all family members have been examined across all organisms, the analyses to date highlight the significance of the flexibility within the formin family to regulate a broad spectrum of diverse cytoskeletal processes during development.