For almost 30 years, the cell-surface protein CD34 has been widely used as a marker to assist in the identification and isolation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and progenitors in preparation for bone-marrow transplantation. In addition, it has increasingly been used as a marker to help identify other tissue-specific stem cells, including muscle satellite cells and epidermal precursors. Despite its utility as a stem-cell marker, however, the function of CD34 has remained remarkably elusive. This is probably because: (1) it is subject to a range of tissue-specific post-transcriptional and post-translational modifications that are expected to alter its function dramatically; (2) the simple interpretation of CD34 gain- and loss-of-function experiments has been confounded by the overlapping expression of the two recently discovered CD34-related proteins podocalyxin and endoglycan; and (3) there has been a glaring lack of robust in vitro and in vivo functional assays that permit the structural and functional analysis of CD34 and its relatives. Here, we provide a brief review of the domain structure, genomic organization, and tissue distribution of the CD34 family. We also describe recent insights from gain- and loss-of-function experiments and improved assays, which are elucidating a fascinating role for these molecules in cell morphogenesis and migration.