Phytoecdysteroids are analogues of arthropod steroid hormones found in plants, where they deter predation by non-adapted predators. There is potential to exploit this to develop new strategies for pest control, either by using ecdysteroids as lead molecules for the design of novel pest control agents or by alteration of ecdysteroid levels/profiles in crop plants through plant breeding or genetic modification. However, it is other properties of phytoecdysteroids that have led to a rapid recent increase in scientific and commercial interest in these molecules. They are apparently non-toxic to mammals and a wide range of beneficial pharmacological (adaptogenic, anabolic, anti-diabetic, hepatoprotective, immunoprotective, wound-healing, and perhaps even anti-tumour) activities is claimed for them. In particular, this has led to a large (and unregulated) market for ecdysteroid-containing preparations for body-builders, sportsmen, and pets, among others. Ecdysteroids are also being considered as nutraceutical additives to food products. Further, ecdysteroids are good candidates as elicitors for gene-switch systems to be used in medical gene therapy and research applications. In this article, I review the applications of phytoecdysteroids and assess their future potential. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.