The current need for antibiotics with novel target molecules has coincided with advances in technical approaches for the structural and functional analysis of the lantibiotics, which are ribosomally synthesized peptides produced by gram-positive bacteria. These peptides have antibiotic or morphogenetic activity and are structurally defined by the presence of unusual amino acids introduced by posttranslational modification. Lantibiotics are complex polycyclic molecules formed by the dehydration of select Ser and Thr residues and the intramolecular addition of Cys thiols to the resulting unsaturated amino acids to form lanthionine and methyllanthionine bridges, respectively. Importantly, the structural and functional diversity of the lantibiotics is much broader than previously imagined. Here we discuss this growing collection of molecules and introduce some recently discovered peptides, review advances in enzymology and protein engineering, and discuss the regulatory networks that govern the synthesis of the lantibiotics by the producing organisms.