The RAP55 protein family is evolutionarily conserved in eukaryotes. Two highly conserved paralogues, RAP55A and RAP55B, exist in vertebrates; their functional properties and expression patterns remain to be compared. RAP55 proteins share multiple domains: the LSm14 domain, a serine/threonine rich region, an FDF motif, an FFD-TFG box and RGG repeats. Together these domains are responsible for RAP55 proteins participating in translational repression, incorporation into mRNP particles, protein-protein interactions, P-body formation and stress granule localisation. All RAP55A proteins localise to P-body-like complexes either in the germline or in somatic cells. X. laevis RAP55B has been shown to be part of translationally repressed mRNP complexes in early oocytes. Together these findings suggest that this protein family has evolved a common and fundamental role in the control of mRNA translation. Furthermore human RAP55A is an autoantigen detected in the serum of patients with primary biliary cirrhosis. The link between RAP55A, P-bodies and primary biliary cirrhosis remains to be elucidated.