Phosphorescent organic light-emitting diodes (PhOLEDs) unfurl a bright future for the next generation of flat-panel displays and lighting sources due to their merit of high quantum efficiency compared with fluorescent OLEDs. This critical review focuses on small-molecular organic host materials as triplet guest emitters in PhOLEDs. At first, some typical hole and electron transport materials used in OLEDs are briefly introduced. Then the hole transport-type, electron transport-type, bipolar transport host materials and the pure-hydrocarbon compounds are comprehensively presented. The molecular design concept, molecular structures and physical properties such as triplet energy, HOMO/LUMO energy levels, thermal and morphological stabilities, and the applications of host materials in PhOLEDs are reviewed (152 references).