Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and its related peptides play a central role in the co-ordination of autonomic, behavioural, cardiovascular, immune and endocrine responses to stressful stimuli. Their actions are mediated through activation of two G-protein-coupled receptors encoded by separate genes, termed CRF-R1 and -R2. In this review we focus on the structure, phylogeny, and expression of CRF peptide family. We present up-to-date literature on divergent actions of the CRF peptide family, including stress and behaviour, cardiovascular physiology, energy balance and re pr oduction. We also pr ese nt a br ief over view of CRF rec eptor s inc luding pha rmacologic al aspe cts a nd potential therapeutic interventions for CRF receptors.