Retinoids play an important role in development, differentiation, and homeostasis. The discovery of retinoid receptors belonging to the superfamily of nuclear ligand-activated transcriptional regulators has revolutionized our molecular understanding as to how these structurally simple molecules exert their pleiotropic effects. Diversity in the control of gene expression by retinoid signals is generated through complexity at different levels of the signaling pathway. A major source of diversity originates from the existence of two families of retinoid acid (RA) receptors (R), the RAR isotypes (alpha, beta, and gamma) and the three RXR isotypes (alpha, beta, and gamma), and their numerous isoforms, which bind as RXR/RAR heterodimers to the polymorphic cis-acting response elements of RA target genes. The possibility of cross-modulation (cross-talk) with cell-surface receptors signaling pathways, as well as the finding that RARs and RXRs interact with multiple putative coactivators and/or corepressors, generates additional levels of complexity for the array of combinatorial effects that underlie the pleiotropic effects of retinoids. This review focuses on recent developments, particularly in the area of structure-function relationships.