Almost nothing is known about atypical kinases in multicellular organisms, including parasites. Supported by information and data available for the free-living nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, and other eukaryotes, the present article describes three RIO kinase genes, riok-1, riok-2 and riok-3, from Haemonchus contortus, one of the most important parasitic nematodes of small ruminants. Analyses of these genes and their products predict that they each play critical roles in the developmental pathways of parasitic nematodes. The findings of this review indicate prospects for functional studies of these genes in C. elegans (as a surrogate) and opportunities for the design of a novel class of nematode-specific inhibitors of RIO kinases. The latter aspect is of paramount importance, given the serious problems linked to anthelmintic resistance in parasitic nematode populations of livestock.