Metal nanoparticles have attracted much attention over the last decade owing to their unique properties as compared to their bulk metal equivalents, including a large surface-to-volume ratio and tunable shapes. To control the properties of nanoparticles with particular respect to shape, size and dispersity is imperative, as these will determine the activity in the desired application. Supported metal nanoparticles are widely employed in catalysis. Recent advances in controlling the shape and size of nanoparticles have opened the possibility to optimise the particle geometry for enhanced catalytic activity, providing the optimum size and surface properties for specific applications. This Review describes the state of the art with respect to the preparation and use of supported metal nanoparticles in catalysis. The main groups of such nanoparticles (noble and transition metal nanoparticles) are highlighted and future prospects are discussed.