Organic compounds offer new possibilities for high energy/power density, cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and functional rechargeable lithium batteries. For a long time, they have not constituted an important class of electrode materials, partly because of the large success and rapid development of inorganic intercalation compounds. In recent years, however, exciting progress has been made, bringing organic electrodes to the attention of the energy storage community. Herein thirty years' research efforts in the field of organic compounds for rechargeable lithium batteries are summarized. The working principles, development history, and design strategies of these materials, including organosulfur compounds, organic free radical compounds, organic carbonyl compounds, conducting polymers, non-conjugated redox polymers, and layered organic compounds are presented. The cell performances of these materials are compared, providing a comprehensive overview of the area, and straightforwardly revealing the advantages/disadvantages of each class of materials.