The Fifth International Workshop on the CCN Family of Genes was held in Toronto October 18–22, 2008. This bi-annual workshop provides a unique opportunity for the presentation and discussion of cutting edge research in the CCN field. The CCN family members have emerged as extracellular matrix associated proteins which play a crucial role in cardiovascular and skeletal development, fibrosis and cancer. Significant progress has been made in the development of model systems to tease apart the CCN signalling pathways in these systems. Results presented at the conference suggest that targeting these pathways now shows real promise as a therapeutic strategy.