The transcription factor TFIIH is a versatile, multi-functional protein complex with multiple engagements. Apart from its role in basal transcription, TFIIH is intimately implicated in DNA repair and (probably) in cell cycle control (both of which are required to prevent carcinogenesis) as well as having possible roles in other processes. Thus, it is a striking example of the efficient use of one component for many purposes. Ingeniously, the incorporation of this essential factor into important, but non-essential, mechanisms, such as DNA repair, protects against cancer. The critical role of TFIIH in transcription function renders inactivating TFIIH mutations lethal to cells. Without this transcription connection, such mutations would lead to genetic instability and oncogenesis.