Autosomal dominant polycýstic kidney disease (ADPKD) is a significant familial disorder, crossing multiple ethnicities as well as organ systems. The goal of understanding and, ultimately, curing ADPKD has fostered collaborative efforts among many laboratories, mustered on by the opportunity to probe fundamental cellular biology. Here we review what is known about ADPKD including well-accepted data such as the identification of the causative genes and the fact that PKD1 and PKD2 act in the same pathway, fairly well-accepted concepts such as the "two-hit hypothesis," and somewhat confusing information regarding polycystin-1 and -2 localization and protein interactions. Special attention is paid to the recently discovered role of the cilium in polycystic kidney disease and the model it suggests. Studying ADPKD is important, not only as an evaluation of a multisystem disorder that spans a lifetime, but as a testament to the achievements of modern biology and medicine.