Mussel-inspired polydopamine (PDA) has emerged as a promising molecule used for anchoring synthetic and biological substances or forming an adhesive layer onto various substrates for biomedical and nanotechnology applications because of its outstanding properties. This review article provides an overview of the recent progress in the PDA-based materials, including synthesis of nanoparticles, capsules, structure-mechanism, physicochemical and biological properties, and medical applications. Frist, to understand how PDA nanoparticles, capsules and films produce the unique properties is insight on the processing parameters. Next, we highlight what is known regarding the mechanism of self-polymerization and the structure features of dopamine (DA), which is based on the formation of covalent bond or through a combination mode between monomers. The inherent hydrophilicity and adhesive property of PDA with the coexistence of catechol and amine functionalities provide desirable surface characteristics without the need for further modification. Finally, successful applications, such as grafting substances, biomineralization, antifouling and antibacterial coatings, drug/gene delivery, and tissue engineering, reported to date involving PDA will be focused. The future study of PDA to develop novel materials with unique properties is emerging for specific nanomedicine applications.