The plants of the genus Phyllanthus (Euphorbiaceae) are widely distributed in most tropical and subtropical countries, and have long been used in folk medicine to treat kidney and urinary bladder disturbances, intestinal infections, diabetes, and hepatitis B. In recent years, the interest in the plants has increased considerably. Substantial progress on their chemistal and pharmacological properties, as well as a few clinical studies of some Phyllanthus species have been made. This review discusses the current knowledge of their chemistry, the in vitro and in vivo pharmacological, biochemical, and clinical studies carried out on the extracts, and the main active constituents isolated from different species of plants of the genus Phyllanthus. These studies carried out with the extracts and purified compounds from these plants support most of their reported uses in folk medicine as an antiviral, in the treatment of genitourinary disorders, and as antinociceptive agents. However, well-controlled, double-binding clinical trials are lacking. Several compounds including alkaloids, flavonoids, lignans, phenols, and terpenes were isolated from these plants and some of them interact with most key enzymes. Together this data strongly supports the view that the plants belonging to the genus Phyllanthus have potential beneficial therapeutic actions in the management of hepatitis B, nefrolitiase, and in painful disorders. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Med Res Rev, 18, No. 4, 225–258, 1998.