Neural crest cells are highly migratory cells that give rise to many derivatives including peripheral ganglia, craniofacial structures and melanocytes. Neural crest cells migrate along defined pathways to their target sites, interacting with each other and their environment as they migrate. Cell adhesion molecules are critical during this process. In this review we discuss the expression and function of cell adhesion molecules during the process of neural crest migration, in particular cadherins, integrins, members of the immunoglobulin superfamily of cell adhesion molecules, and the proteolytic enzymes that cleave these cell adhesion molecules. The expression and function of these cell adhesion molecules and proteases are compared across neural crest emigrating from different axial levels, and across different species of vertebrates.