The cytoskeleton and its components — actin, microtubules and intermediate filaments — have been studied for decades, and multiple roles of the individual cytoskeletal substructures are now well established. However, in recent years it has become apparent that the three cytoskeletal elements also engage in extensive crosstalk that is important for core biological processes. Actin–microtubule crosstalk is particularly important for the regulation of cell shape and polarity during cell migration and division and the establishment of neuronal and epithelial cell shape and function. This crosstalk engages different cytoskeletal regulators and encompasses various physical interactions, such as crosslinking, anchoring and mechanical support. Thus, the cytoskeleton should be considered not as a collection of individual parts but rather as a unified system in which subcomponents co-regulate each other to exert their functions in a precise and highly adaptable manner.