TOR (target of rapamycin) is a serine-threonine protein kinase that is conserved across a diverse range of species from fungi to mammals. The signaling pathway that is anchored by TOR is also conserved across species. In mammals, mTOR integrates growth factor, amino acid, nutrient and energy sensing signals, and thus plays a major role in cell growth and proliferation, protein synthesis and autophagy. As a result of the pivotal role of mTOR in signaling, the aberrant regulation of mTOR has been implicated in several disease processes, including cancer, diabetes, ocular diseases and neurodegenerative disorders, as well as in lifespan extension. More recently, rapamycin (sirolimus) analogs that antagonize the mTOR signaling pathway have been approved for the treatment of several cancers. This review describes some recent advances in the understanding of mTOR signaling, with an emphasis on the functional consequences of mTOR inhibition and therapeutic intervention strategies.