Genetic methodologies have provided powerful means for investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of biological functions. Cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions in particular have been studied in different functional systems with genetically modified animals. In the peripheral and central nervous system, many aspects of specific processes based on such interactions, including myelination, synaptic transmission and plasticity, have been elucidated at the cellular and molecular level. Importantly, genetic approaches have greatly advanced the understanding of pathologies resulting from impaired cellular interactions in the brain and the periphery. In this review, some of the most relevant genetic mouse models in cell biology and the methodologies employed for their production will be described. In addition their usefulness for studies of the mechanisms of hereditary neuropathies, learning and memory, and tumorigenesis will be illustrated.