To perform their diverse biological functions the adhesion activities of the cell adhesion molecules of the immunoglobulin superfamily (IgCAMs) might be regulated by local clustering, proteolytical shedding of their ectodomains or rapid recycling to and from the plasma membrane. Another form of regulation of adhesion might be obtained through flexible ectodomains of IgCAMs which adopt distinct conformations and which in turn modulate their adhesion activity. Here, we discuss variations in the conformation of the extracellular domains of CEACAM1 and CAR that might influence their binding and signaling activities. Furthermore, we concentrate on alternative splicing of single domains and short segments in the extracellular regions of L1 subfamily members that might affect the organization of the N-terminal located Ig-like domains. In particular, we discuss variations of the linker sequence between Ig-like domains 2 and 3 (D2 and D3) that is required for the horseshoe conformation.