Transient receptor potential (TRP) channels are a large family of ion channel proteins, surpassed in number in mammals only by voltage-gated potassium channels. TRP channels are activated and regulated through strikingly diverse mechanisms, making them suitable candidates for cellular sensors. They respond to environmental stimuli such as temperature, pH, osmolarity, pheromones, taste, and plant compounds, and intracellular stimuli such as Ca(2+) and phosphatidylinositol signal transduction pathways. However, it is still largely unknown how TRP channels are activated in vivo. Despite the uncertainties, emerging evidence using TRP channel knockout mice indicates that these channels have broad function in physiology. Here we review the recent progress on the physiology, pharmacology and pathophysiological function of mammalian TRP channels.