This review focuses on epithelium-mesenchymal transitions (EMT), defined as dynamic cell restructurations changing the epithelial state of differentiation into a mesenchymal phenotype. These transitions, known to occur during embryogenesis are also involved during some pathological events of adult life, such as wound repair and metastasis of cancer cells. Numerous studies of embryonic EMTs, found during some morphogenetic processes, have stressed the importance of intercellular and cell-matrix adhesive interactions as key elements regulating cell dissociation and acquisition of cell motility. On the other hand, in vitro studies indicate that growth factors, growth-factor related molecules and extracellular matrix components are involved in initiation of EMT. Therefore, the cellular targets of EMT-inducing molecules are likely to include molecules participating in cell adhesion systems.