The ryanodine receptor calcium release channel is central to cytoplasmic Ca 2+ signalling in skeletal muscle, the heart, and many other tissues, including the central nervous system, lymphocytes, stomach, kidney, adrenal glands, ovaries, testes, thymus, and lungs. The ion channel protein is massive (more than 2.2 MDa) and has a structure that has defied detailed determination until recent developments in cryo-electron microscopy revealed much of its structure at near-atomic resolution. The availability of this high-resolution structure has provided the most significant advances in understanding the function of the ion channel in the past 30 years. We can now visualise the molecular environment of individual amino acid residues that form binding sites for essential modulators of ion channel function and determine its role in Ca 2+ signalling. Importantly, the structure has revealed the structural environment of the many deletions and point mutations that disrupt Ca 2+ signalling in skeletal and cardiac myopathies and neuropathies. The implications are of vital importance to our understanding of the molecular basis of the ion channel's function and for the design of therapies to counteract the effects of ryanodine receptor-associated disorders.