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Nakiterpiosin-type steroids are active against the signaling pathway involving the smoothened and hedgehog proteins, a pathway which is hyperactive in a number of cancers.

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Major secosteroid subclasses are defined by the steroid carbon atoms where this scission has taken place.

For instance, the prototypical secosteroid cholecalciferol, vitamin D and homosteroids (homo-, Greek homos; "same", indicating carbon addition) are structural subclasses of steroids formed from biosynthetic steps.

Sterols are forms of steroids with a hydroxyl group at position three and a skeleton derived from cholestane.).

Hundreds of steroids are found in plants, animals and fungi.

Isomerisation at the C-21 side chain produces a parallel series of compounds, referred to as isosteroids.

In addition to the ring scissions (cleavages), expansions and contractions (cleavage and reclosing to a larger or smaller rings)—all variations in the carbon-carbon bond framework—steroids can also vary: For instance, sterols such as cholesterol and lanosterol have an hydroxyl group attached at position C-3, while testosterone and progesterone have a carbonyl (oxo substituent) at C-3; of these, lanosterol alone has two methyl groups at C-4 and cholesterol (with a C-5 to C-6 double bond) differs from testosterone and progesterone (which have a C-4 to C-5 double bond).The shape of the four rings of most steroids is illustrated (carbon atoms in black, oxygens in red and hydrogens in grey).The apolar "slab" of hydrocarbon in the middle (grey, black) and the polar groups at opposing ends (red) are common features of natural steroids.Steroids such as cholesterol decrease membrane fluidity.Similar to lipids, steroids are highly concentrated energy stores.The three cyclohexane rings (A, B, and C in the first illustration) form the skeleton of a perhydro derivative of phenanthrene. When the two methyl groups and eight carbon side chains (at C-17, as shown for cholesterol) are present, the steroid is said to have a cholestane framework.

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