During the last few years, porphyrins and metalloporphyrins have attracted widespread attention as chromophores for studies in circular dichroism (CD), an indispensable chiroptical tool for monitoring chiral interactions. This review summarizes the multifaceted properties of porphyrins and metalloporphyrins, powerful CD chromophores that are characterized by their intense and red-shifted Soret band, propensity to undergo π–π stacking, facile incorporation of metals, and ease in varying solubility. Such attributes make porphyrins one of the most attractive and sensitive chromophores used in CD studies. They offer possibilities for studying the stereochemistry of chiral porphyrin assemblies, large organic molecules, biopolymers, and compounds available in miniscule quantities. The tendency of porphyrins to undergo π–π stacking and zinc porphyrins to coordinate with amines enable the CD exciton chirality method to be extended to configurational assignments of flexible compounds containing only one stereogenic center. Various artificial porphyrin receptors have been synthesized for the recognition of biologically important chiral guests such as carbohydrates, amino acids, and their derivatives. The induced CD of the host porphyrin Soret band reflects the identity of guests and binding modes of host/guest complexation with high sensitivity. Chirality 12:237–255, 2000. © 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.