Centrosomes are composed of centrioles surrounded by pericentriolar material. The two centrioles in G1 phase are distinguished by the localization of their appendages in the distal and subdistal regions; the centriole possessing both types of appendage is older and referred to as the mother centriole, whereas the other centriole lacking appendages is the daughter centriole. Both distal and subdistal appendages in vertebrate cells consist of multiple proteins assembled in a hierarchical manner. Distal appendages function mainly in the initial process of ciliogenesis, and subdistal appendages are involved in microtubule anchoring, mitotic spindle regulation and maintenance of ciliary signaling. Mutations in genes encoding components of both appendage types are implicated in ciliopathies and developmental defects. In this Review, we discuss recent advances in knowledge regarding the composition and assembly of centriolar appendages, as well as their roles in development and disease.