Both glucosamine and its derivative N-acetyl glucosamine are amino-monosaccharides that serve key biochemical functions on their own and as substrate precursors for the biosynthesis of polymers such as glycosaminoglycans (e.g., hyaluronic acid) and for the production of proteoglycans. Glucosamine has an excellent safety profile and has been shown to provide benefits in several clinical disorders. Glucosamine compounds have been reported to have several beneficial effects on the skin or skin cells. Because of its stimulation of hyaluronic acid synthesis, glucosamine has been shown to accelerate wound healing, improve skin hydration, and decrease wrinkles. In addition, as an inhibitor of tyrosinase activation, it inhibits melanin production and is useful in treatment of disorders of hyperpigmentation. Mechanistically, glucosamine also has both anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective effects. Clinical trials have shown benefit in using oral glucosamine supplementation to improve symptoms and slow the progression of osteoarthritis in humans. Glucosamine has also been used to prevent and treat osteoarthritis in animals. Based on other observations, glucosamine has been suggested for additional clinical uses, including treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, migraine headaches, and viral infections. The current clinical uses for topical and oral glucosamine compounds and the mechanistic rationale for these uses are reviewed here.