Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a life-threatening disease associated with high morbidity, and high mortality in the event of aortic rupture. Major advances in open surgical and endovascular repair of AAA have been achieved during the past 2 decades. However, drug-based therapies are still lacking, highlighting a real need for better understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in AAA formation and progression. The main pathological features of AAA include extracellular matrix remodelling associated with degeneration and loss of vascular smooth muscle cells and accumulation and activation of inflammatory cells. The inflammatory process has a crucial role in AAA and substantially influences many determinants of aortic wall remodelling. In this Review, we focus specifically on the involvement of monocytes and macrophages, summarizing current knowledge on the roles, origin, and functions of these cells in AAA development and its complications. Furthermore, we show and propose that distinct monocyte and macrophage subsets have critical and differential roles in initiation, progression, and healing of the aneurysmal process. On the basis of experimental and clinical studies, we review potential translational applications to detect, assess, and image macrophage subsets in AAA, and discuss the relevance of these applications for clinical practice.