Sepsis is a clinical syndrome defined by physiologic changes indicative of systemic inflammation, which are likely attributable to documented or suspected infection. Septic shock is the progression of those physiologic changes to the extent that delivery of oxygen and metabolic substrate to tissues is compromised. Biomarkers have the potential to diagnose, monitor, stratify and predict outcome in these syndromes. C-reactive protein is elevated in inflammatory and infectious conditions and has long been used as a biomarker indicating infection. Procalcitonin has more recently been shown to better distinguish infection from inflammation. Newer candidate biomarkers for infection include IL-18 and CD64. Lactate facilitates the diagnosis of septic shock and the monitoring of its progression. Multiple stratification biomarkers based on genome-wide expression profiling are under active investigation and present exciting future possibilities.