In the quest to reduce mortality and morbidity from cancer, there is continued effort to identify novel biomarkers to aid in the early detection and the accurate prediction of tumour behaviour. One group of proteins that is emerging as a potentially important group of markers in multiple tumour types is the S100 family. This review summarises the biological and clinical relevance of these proteins in relation to different tumour types. A literature search was performed using the PubMed database and the reference lists of relevant articles. Single case studies were excluded and only reports with a clinical relevance from 1961 to 2007 were included. The search yielded over 1000 published articles and reports. Important reports and studies were reviewed, screened and tracked for further relevant publications. Only the most relevant publications are discussed with relation to individual members of the S100 family. There is increasing evidence that altered expression of S100 family members is seen in many cancers including breast, lung, bladder, kidney, thyroid, gastric, prostate and oral cancers. S100 proteins are commonly up-regulated in tumours and this is often associated with tumour progression. In contrast S100A2, S100A11 and S100A9 have been documented as tumour suppressors in some cancers but as tumour promoters in others. This demonstrates the complexity of the family and variability of their functions. Although the precise roles of these proteins in cancer is still to be discovered many of the family are associated with promoting metastases through interactions with matrix metalloproteinases or by acting as chemoattractants. There is also evidence that some members can regulate transcription factors such as p53. S100B already has a role in a clinical setting in the diagnosis and therapeutic monitoring of malignant melanoma. As our understanding of this family develops it is likely that many more members will aid the diagnosis, monitoring and potential treatment of cancers in the future.