PTEN is a potent tumour suppressor, and its loss of function is frequently observed in both heritable and sporadic cancers. PTEN has phosphatase-dependent and phosphatase-independent (scaffold) activities in the cell and governs a variety of biological processes, including maintenance of genomic stability, cell survival, migration, proliferation and metabolism. Even a subtle decrease in PTEN levels and activity results in cancer susceptibility and favours tumour progression. Regulation of PTEN has therefore emerged as a subject of intense research in tumour biology. Recent discoveries, including the existence of distinct PTEN isoforms and the ability of PTEN to form dimers, have brought to light new modes of PTEN function and regulation. These milestone findings have in turn opened new therapeutic avenues for cancer prevention and treatment through restoration of PTEN tumour suppressor activity.