Pfam is a database of multiple alignments of protein domains or conserved protein regions. Hopefully they represent some evolutionary conserved structure which has implications for the protein's function. Profile hidden Markov models (profile HMMs) built from the Pfam alignments can be very useful for automatically recognizing that a new protein belongs to an existing protein family, even if the homology is weak. Unlike standard pairwise alignment methods (e.g. BLAST, FASTA), Pfam HMMs deal sensibly with multidomain proteins.