The transcription factor NF-kappa B, more than a decade after its discovery, remains an exciting and active area of study. The involvement of NF-kappa B in the expression of numerous cytokines and adhesion molecules has supported its role as an evolutionarily conserved coordinating element in the organism's response to situations of infection, stress, and injury. Recently, significant advances have been made in elucidating the details of the pathways through which signals are transmitted to the NF-kappa B:I kappa B complex in the cytosol. The field now awaits the discovery and characterization of the kinase responsible for the inducible phosphorylation of I kappa B proteins. Another exciting development has been the demonstration that in certain situations NF-kappa B acts as an anti-apoptotic protein; therefore, elucidation of the mechanism by which NF-kappa B protects against cell death is an important goal. Finally, the generation of knockouts of members of the NF-kappa B/I kappa B family has allowed the study of the roles of these proteins in normal development and physiology. In this review, we discuss some of these recent findings and their implications for the study of NF-kappa B.