Given the neighbourhood focus of much regeneration policy, we need to know more about the functional roles that neighbourhoods play in the way that households move within the housing market and hence about the different functional types of neighbourhood amongst deprived areas. Such knowledge would help both to guide the priorities of policy and to interpret the probability of policy interventions being successful. This exploratory study draws on an evaluation of the British government's National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal, part of which entails an interpretation of household mobility data from the 2001 Census. It suggests four categories of neighbourhood - transit, escalator, isolate, and improver areas - based on the relationship between where households move to and move from, focused on the 20% most deprived lower super output areas in England. Evidence on the ground suggests the plausibility of the different functional roles played by the four neighbourhood. types. Some continuing conundrums - the robustness of the categorisation, the need to take account of the spatial context of deprived areas, and the difference between movers and stayers - are discussed as a prelude to further continuing research. © 2008 Pion Ltd and its Licensors.