Carbonic anhydrases (CAs I-VII) are products of a gene family that encodes seven isozymes and several homologous, CA- related proteins. All seven isozymes have been cloned, sequenced, and mapped, and the intron-exon organization of five genes established. They differ in subcellular localizations, being cytoplasmic (CA I, II, III, and VII), GPI-anchored to plasma membranes of specialized epithelial and endothelial cells (CA IV), in mitochondria (CA V), or in salivary secretions (CA VI). They also differ in kinetic properties, susceptibility to inhibitors, and tissue-specific distribution. Structural and kinetic studies of recombinant natural and mutant CAs have greatly increased our understanding of the structural requirements for catalysis. Studies of the effects of CA inhibitors over many years have implicated CAs in a variety of physiological processes. Analyses of human and animal CA deficiencies provide unique opportunities to understand the individual contributions of different isozymes to these processes.