Intracellular signalling cascades initiated by class III receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK-IIIs) and their cytokine ligands contribute to haematopoiesis and mesenchymal tissue development. They are also implicated in a wide range of inflammatory disorders and cancers. Recent snapshots of RTK-III ectodomains in complex with cognate cytokines have revealed timely insights into the structural determinants of RTK-III activation, evolution and pathology. Importantly, candidate 'driver' and 'passenger' mutations that have been identified in RTK-IIIs can now be collectively mapped for the first time to structural scaffolds of the corresponding RTK-III ectodomains. Such insights will generate a renewed interest in dissecting the mechanistic effects of such mutations and their therapeutic relevance.