There is an exciting increase of evidence that members of the disintegrin and metalloprotease (ADAM) family critically regulate cell adhesion, migration, development and signalling. ADAMs are involved in "ectodomain shedding" of various cell surface proteins such as growth factors, receptors and their ligands, cytokines, and cell adhesion molecules. The regulation of these proteases is complex and still poorly understood. Studies in ADAM knockout mice revealed their partially redundant roles in angiogenesis, neurogenesis, tissue development and cancer. ADAMs usually trigger the first step in regulated intramembrane proteolysis leading to activation of intracellular signalling pathways and the release of functional soluble ectodomains.