Walnuts are seeds with a hard shell from the genus Juglans (J. mandshurica, J. regia, J. sinensis, J. cathayensis, J. nigra and J. sigillata). Walnuts can nourish brain cells to improve human memory. Other parts of the plant are also employed as traditional Chinese medicines. Modern research on Juglans species has been mostly focused on the above-mentioned species, the seeds of which are all called walnuts. Juglans species have diverse chemical constituents, including diarylheptanoids, quinones, polyphenols, flavones and terpenes. The diarylheptanoids and quinones have notable antitumor activity, supplying new lead compounds for preparing antitumor drugs. The potent pain-relieving, antioxidant, antibacterial and antitumor activities of these plants are significant. In the review, comprehensive information on the nutritional characteristics, traditional functions, chemical constituents, and biological activities of the Juglans species, together with the seeds used as walnuts is provided to explore their potential and to advance research.