The Janus family of protein-tyrosine kinases has long been known to function in signal transduction pathways initiated by a host of cytokines. A brief overview of the role of Janus kinases (Jaks) in both cytokine and noncytokine signaling pathways highlights the broad physiologic importance of this kinase family. New insights into the structural and mechanistic regulatory aspects of Janus kinases are rapidly emerging. Recent mutational analyses allow the dissection of Jaks into three distinct structural domains governing receptor affiliation, autoregulation, and catalysis. A fourth domain determining substrate specificity is as yet poorly defined and is, therefore, discussed in the context of known substrates and inhibitors, a collection of molecules that have been expanded recently to include Stam and Jab. The proposed mechanism of the interconversion of Janus kinases from inactive to fully active enzymes involves three states of enzymatic activity. Additional layers of regulation can be independently superimposed on this multistate model, providing a simplified description of the behavior of Janus kinases under normal and pathologic circumstances.