Quantum dots (QDs) are a novel class of inorganic fluorophore which are gaining widespread recognition as a result of their exceptional photophysical properties. They are rapidly being applied to existing and emerging technologies, and could have an important role in many areas. Significant challenges remain, however, which must be understood and more fully defined before they can be widely validated. This review provides on overview of QD technology, covering QD characteristics, synthesis methods, and the applications in which they have been put to use. The influence of synthesis methods on QD characteristics and their subsequent suitability to different applications is discussed, and a broad outline of the technologies into which they have been incorporated is presented, and the relative merits and weaknesses of their incorporation are evaluated. The potential for further development, and inclusion in other technologies is also discussed, and barriers restricting further progress specified, particularly with regard to the poorly understood surface chemistry of QDs, the potential for alteration of function of biological molecules when complexed with QDs, and on a larger scale the significant potential for cytotoxicity both in vitro and in vivo.