Vinculin is a cytoplasmic actin-binding protein enriched in focal adhesions and adherens junctions that is essential for embryonic development. Much is now known regarding the role of vinculin in governing cell-matrix adhesion. In the past decade that the crystal structure of vinculin and the molecular details for how vinculin regulates adhesion events have emerged. The recent data suggests a critical function for vinculin in regulating integrin clustering, force generation, and strength of adhesion. In addition to an important role in cell-matrix adhesion, vinculin is also emerging as a regulator of apoptosis, Shigella entry into host cells, and cadherin-based cell-cell adhesion. A close inspection of this work reveals that there are similarities between vinculin's role in focal adhesions and these processes and also some intriguing differences.