Human leucine rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) belongs to the Roco family of proteins, which are characterized by the presence of a Ras-like G-domain (Roc), a C-terminal of Roc domain (COR), and a kinase domain. Mutations in LRRK2 have been found to be thus far the most frequent cause of late-onset Parkinson's disease (PD). Several of the pathogenic mutations in LRRK2 result in decreased GTPase activity and enhanced kinase activity, suggesting a possible PD-related gain of abnormal function. Important progress in the structural understanding of LRRK2 has come from our work with related Roco proteins from lower organisms. Atomic structures of Roco proteins from prokaryotes revealed that Roco proteins belong to the GAD class of molecular switches (G proteins activated by nucleotide dependent dimerization). As in LRRK2, PD-analogous mutations in Roco proteins from bacteria decrease the GTPase reaction. Studies with Roco proteins from the model organism Dictyostelium discoideum revealed that PD mutants have different effects and most importantly they explained the G2019S-related increased LRRK2 kinase activity. Furthermore, the structure of Dictyostelium Roco4 kinase in complex with the LRRK2 inhibitor H1152 showed that Roco4 and other Roco family proteins can be important for the optimization of the current, and identification of new, LRRK2 kinase inhibitors. In this review we highlight the recent progress in structural and biochemical characterization of Roco proteins and discuss its implication for the understanding of the complex regulatory mechanism of LRRK2.