Glomerular visceral epithelial cells, also termed podocytes, are highly specialized epithelial cells that cover the outer aspect of the glomerular basement membrane. Recent studies point to an important role of podocytes in the physiology and pathophysiology of the glomerulus. This review summarizes the structure-function relationships of podocytes. Following a description of the general morphology of podocytes, the technical problems associated with studying these cells are discussed. A survey of podocyte function forms the center of this review. Finally, selected aspects of podocyte development and cell division are discussed.