A century of research on chimpanzees, both in their natural habitat and in captivity, has brought these apes socially, emotionally and mentally much closer to us. Parallels and homologues between chimpanzee and human behaviour range from tool-technology and cultural learning to power politics and intercommunity warfare. Few behavioural domains have remained untouched by this increased knowledge, which has dramatically challenged the way we view ourselves. The sequencing of the chimpanzee genome will no doubt bring more surprises and insights. Humans do occupy a special place among the primates, but this place increasingly has to be defined against a backdrop of substantial similarity.