Acoustic standing wave technology combined with microtechnology opens up new areas for the development of advanced particle and cell separating microfluidic systems. This tutorial review outlines the fundamental work performed on continuous flow acoustic standing wave separation of particles in macro scale systems. The transition to the microchip format is further surveyed, where both fabrication and design issues are discussed. The acoustic technology offers attractive features, such as reasonable throughput and ability to separate particles in a size domain of about tenths of micrometers to tens of micrometers. Examples of different particle separation modes enabled in microfluidic chips, utilizing standing wave technology, are described along a discussion of several potential applications in life science research and in the medical clinic. Chip integrated acoustic standing wave separation technology is still in its infancy and it can be anticipated that new laboratory standards very well may emerge from the current research.