Antifreeze glycoproteins are an important class of biological antifreezes that have potential applications in many areas of medicine, agriculture and industry in which ice crystal growth is damaging. While the synthesis of antifreeze glycoproteins as pure glycoforms has recently been achieved by using ligation and polymerisation strategies, the routine production of large quantities of pure glycoforms remains challenging. A range of C-linked analogues that are readily produced by solid-phase synthesis have delivered novel compounds that are not biological antifreezes, but are potent, non-cytotoxic, ice-recrystallisation inhibitors. Structure–activity studies, the identification of cyclic antifreeze glycoproteins and conformational studies have provided further insight into the requirements for antifreeze activity. These results, coupled with significant advances in approaches to the routine synthesis of different glycoproteins and mimics, present opportunities for the design and synthesis of novel ice-growth-inhibiting and antifreeze compounds.