Microbes often construct and live within surface-associated multicellular communities known as biofilms. The precise structure, chemistry and physiology of the biofilm all vary with the nature of its resident microbes and local environment. However, an important commonality among biofilms is that their structural integrity critically depends upon an extracellular matrix produced by their constituent cells. Extracellular matrices might be as diverse as biofilms, and they contribute significantly to the organization of the community. This review discusses recent advances in our understanding of the extracellular matrix and its role in biofilm biology.