Although several separation technologies are technically capable of removing volatile products from fermentation broths, distillation remains the dominant technology. This is especially true for the recovery of biofuels such as ethanol. In this paper, the status of an emerging membrane-based technology, called pervaporation, for this application is reviewed. Several issues and research priorities which will impact the ability of pervaporation to be competitive for biofuel recovery from fermentation systems are identified and discussed. They include: increased energy efficiency; reduction of capital cost for pervaporation systems; longer term trials with actual fermentation broths; optimized integration of pervaporation with fermentor; synergy of performing both alcohol recovery and solvent dehydration by pervaporation with dephlegmation fractional condensation technology; and updated economic analyses of pervaporation at various biofuel production scales. Pervaporation is currently viable for biofuel recovery in a number of situations, but more widespread application will be possible when progress has been made on these issues. Published in 2005 for SCI by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.