This review describes the structure and functions of Y-box binding protein 1 (YB-1) and its homologs. Interactions of YB-1 with DNA, mRNAs, and proteins are considered. Data on the participation of YB-1 in DNA reparation and transcription, mRNA splicing and translation are systematized. Results on interactions of YB-1 with cytoskeleton components and its possible role in mRNA localization are discussed. Data on intracellular distribution of YB-1, its redistribution between the nucleus and the cytoplasm, and its secretion and extracellular functions are summarized. The effect of YB-1 on cell differentiation, its involvement in extra- and intracellular signaling pathways, and its role in early embryogenesis are described. The mechanisms of regulation of YB-1 expression in the cell are presented. Special attention is paid to the involvement of YB-1 in oncogenic cell transformation, multiple drug resistance, and dissemination of tumors. Both the oncogenic and antioncogenic activities of YB-1 are reviewed. The potential use of YB-1 in diagnostics and therapy as an early cancer marker and a molecular target is discussed.