Adaptors are proteins of multi-modular structure without enzymatic activity. Their capacity to organise large, temporary protein complexes by linking proteins together in a regulated and selective fashion makes them of outstanding importance in the establishment and maintenance of specificity and efficiency in all known signal transduction pathways. This review focuses on the structural and functional characterisation of adaptors involved in tyrosine kinase (TK) signalling. TK-linked adaptors can be distinguished by their domain composition and binding specificities. However, such structural classifications have proven inadequate as indicators of functional roles. A better way to understand the logic of signalling networks might be to look at functional aspects of adaptor proteins such as signalling specificity, negative versus positive contribution to signal propagation, or their position in the signalling hierarchy. All of these functions are dynamic, suggesting that adaptors have important regulatory roles rather than acting only as stable linkers in signal transduction.BioEssays28:465-479, 2006. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.