The implications of essential trace elements in endocrinological processes, mainly thyroid function, growth, gonadal function, adrenal hormones, prolactin, glucose homeostasis, calcium-phosphorus metabolism, and thymulin activity, are reviewed. Most concerned elements in this field include iodine, zinc, selenium, copper, chromium, manganese and vanadium. The minerals are powerful modulators of several physiological functions that can be considerably perturbed in deficiency states. The resulting biochemical and clinical modifications can be prevented and/or corrected by adequate supplementation. Sometimes, however, they act like pharmacological agents when their beneficial effects are not the result of a correction of a nutritional deficiency state. Their potentialities as therapeutic agents are perfectly described in many cases, but some indications deserve further investigations.