Intracellular transport is fundamental for cellular function, survival and morphogenesis. Kinesin superfamily proteins (also known as KIFs) are important molecular motors that directionally transport various cargos, including membranous organelles, protein complexes and mRNAs. The mechanisms by which different kinesins recognize and bind to specific cargos, as well as how kinesins unload cargo and determine the direction of transport, have now been identified. Furthermore, recent molecular genetic experiments have uncovered important and unexpected roles for kinesins in the regulation of such physiological processes as higher brain function, tumour suppression and developmental patterning. These findings open exciting new areas of kinesin research.