Nearly 50 years ago, Chase published a review of hair cycling in which he detailed hair growth in the mouse and integrated hair biology with the biology of his day. In this review we have used Chase as our model and tried to put the adult hair follicle growth cycle in perspective. We have tried to sketch the adult hair follicle cycle, as we know it today and what needs to be known. Above all, we hope that this work will serve as an introduction to basic biologists who are looking for a defined biological system that illustrates many of the challenges of modern biology: cell differentiation, epithelial-mesenchymal interactions, stem cell biology, pattern formation, apoptosis, cell and organ growth cycles, and pigmentation. The most important theme in studying the cycling hair follicle is that the follicle is a regenerating system. By traversing the phases of the cycle (growth, regression, resting, shedding, then growth again), the follicle demonstrates the unusual ability to completely regenerate itself. The basis for this regeneration rests in the unique follicular epithelial and mesenchymal components and their interactions. Recently, some of the molecular signals making up these interactions have been defined. They involve gene families also found in other regenerating systems such as fibroblast growth factor, transforming growth factor-beta, Wnt pathway, Sonic hedgehog, neurotrophins, and homeobox. For the immediate future, our challenge is to define the molecular basis for hair follicle growth control, to regenerate a mature hair follicle in vitro from defined populations, and to offer real solutions to our patients' problems.