In the past decade, there have been exciting developments in the field of lithium ion batteries as energy storage devices, resulting in the application of lithium ion batteries in areas ranging from small portable electric devices to large power systems such as hybrid electric vehicles. However, the maximum energy density of current lithium ion batteries having topatactic chemistry is not sufficient to meet the demands of new markets in such areas as electric vehicles. Therefore, new electrochemical systems with higher energy densities are being sought, and metal-air batteries with conversion chemistry are considered a promising candidate. More recently, promising electrochemical performance has driven much research interest in Li-air and Zn-air batteries. This review provides an overview of the fundamentals and recent progress in the area of Li-air and Zn-air batteries, with the aim of providing a better understanding of the new electrochemical systems.