Biosorption is a physico-chemical and metabolically-independent process based on a variety of mechanisms including absorption, adsorption, ion exchange, surface complexation and precipitation. Biosorption processes are highly important in the environment and conventional biotreatment processes. As a branch of biotechnology, biosorption has been aimed at the removal or recovery of organic and inorganic substances from solution by biological material which can include living or dead microorganisms and their components, seaweeds, plant materials, industrial and agricultural wastes and natural residues. For decades biosorption has been heralded as a promising cost-effective clean-up biotechnology. Despite significant progress in our understanding of this complex phenomenon and a dramatic increase in publications in this research area, commercialization of biosorption technologies has been limited so far. This article summarizes existing knowledge on various aspects of the fundamentals and applications of biosorption and critically reviews the obstacles to commercial success and future perspectives.