In recent years a substantial body of evidence has accumulated to support the notion that signaling pathways known to be important during embryonic development play important roles in regulating self-renewing tissues. Moreover, the same pathways are often deregulated during tumorigenesis due to mutations of key elements of these pathways. The Notch signaling cascade meets all of the above-mentioned criteria. We discuss here the pleiotropic roles of the Notch signaling pathway in three different self-renewing organs (intestine, hematopoietic system and skin) and how its deregulation is involved in tumorigenesis.