The S100 family of calcium binding proteins contains approximately 16 members each of which exhibits a unique pattern of tissue/cell type specific expression. Although the distribution of these proteins is not restricted to the nervous system, the implication of several members of this family in nervous system development, function, and disease has sparked new interest in these proteins. We now know that the original two members of this family, S100A1 and S100B, can regulate a diverse group of cellular functions including cell-cell communication, cell growth, cell structure, energy metabolism, contraction and intracellular signal transduction. Although some members of the family may function extracellularly, most appear to function as intracellular calcium-modulated proteins and couple extracellular stimuli to cellular responses via interaction with other cellular proteins called target proteins. Interaction of these proteins with target proteins appear to involve cysteine residues (one in S100A1 and two in S100B), as well as a stretch of 13 amino acids, in the middle of the molecule called the linker region, which connects the two EF-hand calcium binding domains. In addition to the amino acid sequence and secondary structures of these proteins, the structures of the genes encoding these proteins are highly conserved. Studies on the expression of these proteins have demonstrated that a complex mixture of transcriptional and postranscriptional mechanisms regulate S100 expression. Further analysis of the function and expression of these proteins in both nervous and nonnervous tissues will provide important information regarding the role of altered S100 expression in nervous system development, function and disease.