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The idea that cells follow a one-way trajectory to static maturity has been challenged by recent evidence that cellular identity is in fact fluid. Through the processes of dedifferentiation and transdifferentiation, mature cells can return to a stem-cell like state or convert into a different type of mature cell, following a conserved molecular program referred to as paligenosis. This plasticity enables cells to respond to intrinsic and extrinsic signals under both homeostatic and pathological conditions. Critically important in tissue repair following injury, cellular plasticity is also prevalent in cancer cells, where it contributes to tumour heterogeneity and drug resistance. This Collection invites research on the mechanisms and implications of cellular plasticity in developmental biology, regenerative medicine, cancer biology, and other fields.