The African mosquito species Anopheles gambiae sensu lato s.l. and Anopheles funestus rank among the world's most efficient vectors of human malaria. Their unique bionomics, particularly their anthropophilic, endophagic and endophilic characters, guarantee a strong mosquito-host interaction, favorable to malaria transmission. Olfactory cues govern the various behaviors of female mosquitoes and here we review the role of semiochemicals in the life history of African malaria vectors. Recent evidence points towards the existence of human-specific kairomones affecting host-seeking A. gambiae s.l., and efforts are under way to identify the volatiles mediating this behavior. Based on examples from other Culicidae spp., it is argued that there is good reason to assume that mating, sugar feeding, and oviposition behavior in Afrotropical malaria vectors may also be mediated by semiochemicals. It is foreseen that increased knowledge of odor-mediated behaviors will be applied in the development of novel sampling techniques and possibly alternative methods of intervention to control malaria.