The lignin biosynthetic pathway has been studied for more than a century but has undergone major revisions over the past decade. Significant progress has been made in cloning new genes by genetic and combined bioinformatics and biochemistry approaches. In vitro enzymatic assays and detailed analyses of mutants and transgenic plants altered in the expression of lignin biosynthesis genes have provided a solid basis for redrawing the monolignol biosynthetic pathway, and structural analyses have shown that plant cell walls can tolerate large variations in lignin content and structure. In some cases, the potential value for agriculture of transgenic plants with modified lignin structure has been demonstrated. This review presents a current picture of monolignol biosynthesis, polymerization, and lignin structure.