Angiotensin II (AngII) interacts with two receptor subtypes, AT1 and AT2, belonging to the seven transmembrane receptor superfamily. Pharmacological investigations initially suggested that AT2 receptors antagonize AT1 effects. Data from AT2 receptor transgenic and knock-out mice have not been entirely consistent with this interpretation. At the cellular level, a clear mechanistic model of AT2 transduction and signalling has yet to emerge. The AT2 receptor displays the hallmark motifs and signature residues of a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), but fails to demonstrate most of the classic features of GPCR signalling. In recent years, unbiased screens for AT2-interacting proteins have identified novel partner proteins involved in AT2 signalling, providing new insight into the mechanisms of AT2 action. A growing body of evidence suggests that the AT2 receptor is constitutively active (i.e. signals without AngII). This review critically evaluates controversies surrounding physiological functions and signalling mechanisms of the AT2 receptor, primarily in a cardiovascular context. Recent advances in the field are highlighted and findings challenging the concept that the AT2 receptor is a conventional angiotensin receptor are considered.