ATRX was identified over 20 years ago as the gene responsible for a rare developmental disorder characterized by α-thalassemia and intellectual disability. Similarities to the sucrose nonfermentable SNF2 type chromatin remodelers initially suggested a role in transcriptional regulation. However, over the last years, our knowledge of the epigenetic activities of ATRX has expanded steadily. Recent exciting discoveries have propelled ATRX into the limelight of chromatin and telomere biology, development and cancer research. This review summarizes recent breakthroughs in understanding ATRX function in heterochromatin structure, genome stability and its frequent dysregulation in a variety of cancers.