The S100 protein family consists of 24 members functionally distributed into three main subgroups: those that only exert intracellular regulatory effects, those with intracellular and extracellular functions and those which mainly exert extracellular regulatory effects. S100 proteins are only expressed in vertebrates and show cell-specific expression patterns. In some instances, a particular S100 protein can be induced in pathological circumstances in a cell type that does not express it in normal physiological conditions. Within cells, S100 proteins are involved in aspects of regulation of proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, Ca2+ homeostasis, energy metabolism, inflammation and migration/invasion through interactions with a variety of target proteins including enzymes, cytoskeletal subunits, receptors, transcription factors and nucleic acids. Some S100 proteins are secreted or released and regulate cell functions in an autocrine and paracrine manner via activation of surface receptors (e.g. the receptor for advanced glycation end-products and toll-like receptor 4), G-protein-coupled receptors, scavenger receptors, or heparan sulfate proteoglycans and N-glycans. Extracellular S100A4 and S100B also interact with epidermal growth factor and basic fibroblast growth factor, respectively, thereby enhancing the activity of the corresponding receptors. Thus, extracellular S100 proteins exert regulatory activities on monocytes/macrophages/microglia, neutrophils, lymphocytes, mast cells, articular chondrocytes, endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cells, neurons, astrocytes, Schwann cells, epithelial cells, myoblasts and cardiomyocytes, thereby participating in innate and adaptive immune responses, cell migration and chemotaxis, tissue development and repair, and leukocyte and tumor cell invasion.