The peripheral nervous system (PNS) represents a highly heterogeneous entity with a broad range of functions, ranging from providing communication between the brain and the body to controlling development, stem cell niches and regenerative processes. According to the structure and function, the PNS can be subdivided into sensory, motor (i.e. the nerve fibers of motor neurons), autonomic and enteric domains. Different types of neurons correspond to these domains and recent progress in single-cell transcriptomics has enabled the discovery of new neuronal subtypes and improved the previous cell-type classifications. The developmental mechanisms generating the domains of the PNS reveal a range of embryonic strategies, including a variety of cell sources, such as migratory neural crest cells, placodal neurogenic cells and even recruited nerve-associated Schwann cell precursors. In this article, we discuss the diversity of roles played by the PNS in our body, as well as the origin, wiring and heterogeneity of every domain. We place a special focus on the most recent discoveries and concepts in PNS research, and provide an outlook of future perspectives and controversies in the field.