One of the most widely used and important groups of functional dyes are the styryl dyes and a review of this functional dye class has not been published for more than 15 years. In this review article, we describe the new trends in the synthesis of a range of novel intermediates and styryl dyes and include the most interesting examples of their high-tech applications. However, this review is not intended to be comprehensive because of the large number of styryl dye studies that have been carried out in this time. Styryl cyanine dyes are widely used in optical recording media in laser discs, as flexible dyes, laser dyes, as optical sensitisers and in various other fields, for example dye-sensitised solar cells and dyes with non-linear optical properties. Additionally, the most important applications for these dyes are in bio-labelling and in medicinal analysis.