Eukaryotic cells release vesicles into their environment by membrane shedding (ectosomes or microparticles) and secretion (exosomes). Microparticles and exosomes occur commonly in vitro and in vivo. The occurrence, composition and function(s) of these vesicles change during disease (progression). During the last decade, the scientific and clinical interest increased tremendously. Evidence is accumulating that microparticles and exosomes may be of pathophysiological relevance in autoimmune, cardiovascular and thromboembolic diseases, as well as inflammatory and infectious disorders. In this review, we will summarize the discovery, biology, structure and function of microparticles and exosomes, and discuss their (patho-) physiological role during normal and complicated pregnancy.