The PTEN tumour suppressor gene is mutated frequently in many malignancies and its importance in the development of cancer is probably underestimated. As the primary phosphatase of phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate, PTEN has a central role in reigning in the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) network to control cellular homeostasis. Cells that lack PTEN are unable to regulate the PtdIns 3-kinase programme, which stimulates a variety of cellular phenotypes that favour oncogenesis. As well as the well-known role as tumour suppressor, recent studies show that PTEN is involved in the regulation of several basic cellular functions, such as cell migration, cell size, contractility of cardiac myocytes and chemotaxis. Here, we review the roles of PTEN in normal cellular functions and disease development.