The larger ducts of the biliary tree contain numerous tubulo-alveolar adnexal glands that are lined with biliary epithelial cells and connected to the bile duct lumen via small glandular canals. Although these peribiliary glands (PBG) were already described in the 19th century, their exact function and role in the pathophysiology and development of cholangiopathies have not become evident until recently. While secretion of serous and mucinous components into the bile was long considered as the main function of PBG, recent studies have identified PBG as an important source for biliary epithelial cell proliferation and renewal. Activation, dilatation, and proliferation of PBG (or the lack thereof) have been associated with various cholangiopathies. Moreover, PBG have been identified as niches of multipotent stem/progenitor cells with endodermal lineage traits. This has sparked research interest in the role of PBG in the pathogenesis of various cholangiopathies as well as bile duct malignancies. Deeper understanding of the regenerative capacity of the PBG may contribute to the development of novel regenerative therapeutics for previously untreatable hepatobiliary diseases. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Cholangiocytes in Health and Disease edited by Jesus Banales, Marco Marzioni, Nicholas LaRusso and Peter Jansen.