TRP channel proteins constitute a large and diverse family of proteins that are expressed in many tissues and cell types. This family was designated TRP because of a spontaneously occurring Drosophila mutant lacking TRP that responded to a continuous light with a transient receptor potential (hence TRP). In addition to responses to light, TRPs mediate responses to nerve growth factor, pheromones, olfaction, mechanical, chemical, temperature, pH, osmolarity, vasorelaxation of blood vessels, and metabolic stress. Furthermore, mutations in several members of TRP-related channel proteins are responsible for several diseases, such as several tumors and neurodegenerative disorders. TRP-related channel proteins are found in a variety of organisms, tissues, and cell types, including nonexcitable, smooth muscle, and neuronal cells. The large functional diversity of TRPs is also reflected in their diverse permeability to ions, although, in general, they are classified as nonselective cationic channels. The molecular domains that are conserved in all members of the TRP family constitute parts of the transmembrane domains and in most members also the ankyrin-like repeats at the NH2 terminal of the protein and a "TRP domain" at the COOH terminal, which is a highly conserved 25-amino acid stretch with still unknown function. All of the above features suggest that members of the TRP family are "special assignment" channels, which are recruited to diverse signaling pathways. The channels' roles and characteristics such as gating mechanism, regulation, and permeability are determined by evolution according to the specific functional requirements.