Taurine mediates a plethora of membrane-linked effects in excitable tissues. To account for these multiple actions, four hypotheses have been proposed. One theory is based on the observation that taurine diminishes the inflammatory response of several cytotoxic oxidants. It is proposed that a reduction in the extent of membrane oxidative injury contributes to these cytoprotective actions. The second theory maintains that alterations in protein phosphorylation may underlie certain effects of taurine, particularly its effect on calcium transport. The third hypothesis assumes that the interaction of taurine with the neutral phospholipids leads to altered membrane calcium binding and function. The final theory ties the actions of taurine to inhibition of phospholipid N-methylation and the resulting changes in membrane composition and structure. While each of these hypotheses has merit, none of them can fully explain the membrane actions of taurine. Further studies are required to ascertain the importance of each theory.