Clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine can look back over more than 150 years of eventful history. The subject encompasses all the medicinal disciplines as well as the remaining natural sciences. Clinical chemistry demonstrates how new insights from basic research in biochemical, biological, analytical chemical, engineering, and information technology can be transferred into the daily routine of medicine to improve diagnosis, therapeutic monitoring, and prevention. This Review begins with a presentation of the development of clinical chemistry. Individual steps between the drawing of blood and interpretation of laboratory data are then illustrated; here not only are pitfalls described, but so are quality control systems. The introduction of new methods and trends into medicinal analysis is explored, along with opportunities and problems associated with personalized medicine.