Short messaging service (SMS) (a.k.a. text messaging) is a fast, low cost and popular mode of communication among young people, and these advantages can be used in a variety of ways in the field of sexual health. This paper reviews the current published and grey literature and discusses applications of SMS in sexual health and the evidence base for their effectiveness. Examples of uses of SMS in sexual health include: communication between sexual health clinics and patients, partner notification and contact tracing, contraception reminders and sexual health promotion and education. However, although SMS has been applied in many ways to improve sexual health and there is some evidence of its effectiveness, very few of the applications described in this article have been evaluated. As SMS is likely to become more and more commonly used for sexual health purposes, evaluation of its benefits and effectiveness is essential.