Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), a first homolog of ACE, regulates the renin-angiotensin system by counterbalancing ACE activity. Accumulating evidence in recent years has demonstrated a physiological and pathological role of ACE2 in the cardiovascular, renal and respiratory systems. For instance, in the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), ACE, AngII, and AT1R promote the disease pathogenesis, whereas ACE2 and the AT2R protect from ARDS. Importantly, ACE2 has been identified as a key SARS-coronavirus receptor and plays a protective role in SARS pathogenesis. Furthermore, the recent explosion of research into the ACE2 homolog, collectrin, has revealed a new physiological function of ACE2 as an amino acid transporter, which explains the pathogenic role of gene mutations in Hartnup disorder. This review summarizes and discusses the recently unveiled roles for ACE2 in disease pathogenesis.