PECAM-1 (also known as CD31) is a cellular adhesion and signaling receptor comprising six extracellular immunoglobulin (Ig)-like homology domains, a short transmembrane domain and a 118 amino acid cytoplasmic domain that becomes serine and tyrosine phosphorylated upon cellular activation. PECAM-1 expression is restricted to blood and vascular cells. In circulating platelets and leukocytes, PECAM-1 functions largely as an inhibitory receptor that, via regulated sequential phosphorylation of its cytoplasmic domain, limits cellular activation responses. PECAM-1 is also highly expressed at endothelial cell intercellular junctions, where it functions as a mechanosensor, as a regulator of leukocyte trafficking and in the maintenance of endothelial cell junctional integrity. In this review, we will describe (1) the functional domains of PECAM-1 and how they contribute to its barrier-enhancing properties, (2) how the physical properties of PECAM-1 influence its subcellular localization and its ability to influence endothelial cell barrier function, (3) various stimuli that initiate PECAM-1 signaling and/or function at the endothelial junction and (4) cross-talk of PECAM-1 with other junctional molecules, which can influence endothelial cell function.