Intermediate filament (IF) proteins comprise a large family with more than 70 members. Initially, IFs were assumed to provide only structural reinforcement for the cell. However, IFs are now known to be dynamic structures that are involved in a wide range of cellular processes during all stages of life, from development to ageing, and during homeostasis and stress. This Commentary discusses some lesser-known functional and regulatory aspects of IFs. We specifically address the emerging roles of nestin in myogenesis and cancer cell migration, and examine exciting evidence on the regulation of nestin and lamin A by the notch signalling pathway, which could have repercussions for our understanding of the roles of IF proteins in development and ageing. In addition, we discuss the modulation of the post-translational modifications of neuronally expressed IFs and their protein-protein interactions, as well as IF glycosylation, which not only has a role in stress and ageing, but might also regulate IFs during development. Although many of these recent findings are still preliminary, they nevertheless open new doors to explore the functionality of the IF family of proteins.