Nucleolin (NCL) is a multifunctional protein that mainly localized in the nucleolus, it is also found in the nucleoplasm, cytoplasm and cell membrane. The three main structural domains allow the interaction of NCL with different proteins and RNA sequences. Moreover, specific post-translational modifications and its shuttling property also contribute to its multifunctionality. NCL has been demonstrated to be involved in a variety of aspects such as ribosome biogenesis, chromatin organization and stability, DNA and RNA metabolism, cytokinesis, cell proliferation, angiogenesis, apoptosis regulation, stress response and microRNA processing. NCL has been increasingly implicated in several pathological processes, especially in tumorigenesis and viral infection, which makes NCL a potential target for the development of anti-tumor and anti-viral strategies. In this review, we present an overview on the structure, localizations and various functions of NCL, and further describe how the multiple functions of NCL are correlated to its multiple cellular distributions.