Bone morphogenic proteins (BMPs) are pleiotropic regulators of bone volume, skeletal organogenesis and bone regeneration after a fracture. They function as signaling agents to affect cellular events like proliferation, differentiation and extracellular matrix synthesis. Clinically utilized rhBMP-2 combines rhBMP-2 with an osteoconductive carrier to induce bone growth and acts as a bone graft substitute. rhBMP-2, initially released in 2002, has been used primarily in spinal fusions in the lumbar and cervical regions. Recently, the application of rhBMP-2 has extended into the orthopedic trauma setting with increased application in open tibia fractures. This review outlines the history of development, molecular characteristics, toxicity and clinical applications.