In 1988, the gene responsible for the autosomal recessive disease ataxia- telangiectasia (A-T) was localized to 11q22.3-23.1. It was eventually cloned in 1995. Many independent laboratories have since demonstrated that in replicating cells, ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) is predominantly a nuclear protein that is involved in the early recognition and response to double-stranded DNA breaks. ATM is a high-molecular-weight PI3K-family kinase. ATM also plays many important cytoplasmic roles where it phosphorylates hundreds of protein substrates that activate and coordinate cell-signaling pathways involved in cell-cycle checkpoints, nuclear localization, gene transcription and expression, the response to oxidative stress, apoptosis, nonsense-mediated decay, and others. Appreciating these roles helps to provide new insights into the diverse clinical phenotypes exhibited by A-T patients-children and adults alike-which include neurodegeneration, high cancer risk, adverse reactions to radiation and chemotherapy, pulmonary failure, immunodeficiency, glucose transporter aberrations, insulin-resistant diabetogenic responses, and distinct chromosomal and chromatin changes. An exciting recent development is the ATM-dependent pathology encountered in mitochondria, leading to inefficient respiration and energy metabolism and the excessive generation of free radicals that themselves create life-threatening DNA lesions that must be repaired within minutes to minimize individual cell losses.