Mast cells are (in)famous for their role in allergic diseases, but the physiological and pathophysiological roles of this ingenious cell are still not fully understood. Mast cells are important for homeostasis and surveillance of the human system, recognizing both endogenous and exogenous agents, which induce release of a variety of mediators acting on both immune and non-immune cells, including nerve cells, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells and epithelial cells. During recent years, clinical and experimental studies on human mast cells as well as experiments using animal models have resulted in many discoveries that help decipher the function of mast cells in health and disease. In this review we focus particularly on new insights into mast cell biology, with a focus on mast cell development, recruitment, heterogeneity and reactivity. We also highlight the development in our understanding of mast cell driven-diseases and discuss the development of novel strategies to treat such conditions.