Abstract Although intermediate filaments are one of three major cytoskeletal systems of vertebrate cells, they remain the least understood with respect to their structure and function. This is due in part to the fact that they are encoded by a large gene family which is developmentally regulated in a cell and tissue type specific fashion. This article is in honor of Ueli Aebi. It highlights the studies on IF that have been carried out by our laboratory for more than 40 years. Many of our advances in understanding IF are based on conversations with Ueli which have taken place during adventurous and sometimes dangerous hiking and biking trips throughout the world.