To the PE_PGRS protein subfamily belongs a group of surface-exposed mycobacterial antigens that in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) H37Rv accounts to more than 65 genes, 51 of which are thought to express a functional protein. PE_PGRS proteins share a conserved structural architecture with three main domains: the N-terminal PE domain; the PGRS domain, that can vary in sequence and size and is characterized by the presence of multiple GGA-GGX amino acid repeats; the highly conserved sequence containing the GRPLI motif that links the PE and PGRS domains; the unique C-terminus end that can vary in size from few to up to ≈ 300 amino acids. pe_pgrs genes emerged in slow-growing mycobacteria and expanded and diversified in MTBC and few other pathogenic mycobacteria. Interestingly, despite sequence homology and apparent redundancy, PE_PGRS proteins seem to have evolved a peculiar function. In this review, we summarize the actual knowledge on this elusive protein family in terms of evolution, structure, and function, focusing on the role of PE_PGRS in TB pathogenesis. We provide an original hypothesis on the role of the PE domain and propose a structural model for the polymorphic PGRS domain that might explain how so similar proteins can have different physiological functions.