The establishment of a functional placenta is pivotal for normal fetal development and the maintenance of pregnancy. In the course of early placentation, trophoblast precursors differentiate into highly invasive trophoblast subtypes. These cells, referred to as extravillous trophoblasts (EVTs), penetrate the maternal uterus reaching as far as the inner third of the myometrium. One of the most fundamental functions of EVTs is the transformation of spiral arteries to establish the uteroplacental blood circulation assuring an adequate nutrient and gas supply to the developing fetus. To achieve this, specialized EVT subpopulations interact with maternal immune cells, provoke elastolysis in the arterial wall and replace the endothelial cells lining the spiral arteries to induce intraluminal vascular remodeling. These and other trophoblast-mediated processes are tightly controlled by paracrine signals from the maternal decidua and furthermore underlie an intrinsic cell-type specific program. Various severe pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia or intrauterine growth retardation are associated with abnormal EVT function, shallow invasion, and decreased blood flow to the placenta. Hence a better understanding of human trophoblast invasion seems mandatory to improve therapeutic intervention. This approach, however, requires a profound knowledge of the human placenta, its various trophoblast subtypes and in particular a better understanding of the regulatory network that controls the invasive phenotype of EVTs.