This review compares the pharmacology, spectrum of antifungal activity, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties, safety and clinical efficacy of the three licensed echinocandins: caspofungin, micafungin and anidulafungin. Echinocandins inhibit the synthesis of 1,3-β-D-glucan, an essential component of the fungal cell wall, and represent a valuable treatment option for fungal infections. The echinocandins exhibit potent in vitro and in vivo fungicidal activity against Candida species, including azole-resistant pathogens. For all agents, strains with drug minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of ≤ 2 μg/mL are considered susceptible; the MIC at which 90% of isolates tested were inhibited (MIC₉₀) values are typically 2 μg/mL. Of the three echinocandins, the in vitro 'paradoxical effect' (increased growth at supra-MIC drug concentrations) is observed least often with anidulafungin. All echinocandins have low oral bioavailability, and distribute well into tissues, but poorly into the CNS and eye. Anidulafungin is unique in that it undergoes elimination by chemical degradation in bile rather than via hepatic metabolism, has a lower maximum concentration and smaller steady state under the concentration-time curve but longer half-life than caspofungin or micafungin. In children, dosing should be based on body surface area. Daily doses of caspofungin (but not micafungin and anidulafungin) should be decreased (from 50 to 35 mg) in moderate liver insufficiency. All echinocandins display concentration-dependent fungicidal (for Candida) or fungistatic (for Aspergillus) activity. The postantifungal effect is 0.9-20 hours against Candida and <0.5 hours against Aspergillus. The echinocandins are well tolerated with few serious drug-drug interactions since they are not appreciable substrates, inhibitors or inducers of the cytochrome P450 or P-glycoprotein systems. In parallel with the greater clinical experience with caspofungin, this agent has a slightly higher potential for adverse effects/drug-drug interactions, with the least potential observed for anidulafungin. Caspofungin (but not micafungin or anidulafungin) dosing should be increased if coadministered with rifampicin and there are modest interactions of caspofungin with calcineurin inhibitors. All three agents are approved for the treatment of oesophageal candidiasis, candidaemia and other select forms of invasive candidiasis. Only micafungin is licensed for antifungal prophylaxis in stem cell transplantation, whereas caspofungin is approved for empirical therapy of febrile neutropenia. Caspofungin has been evaluated in the salvage and primary therapy of invasive aspergillosis. Combination regimens incorporating an echinocandin showing promise in the treatment of aspergillosis. However, echinocandins remain expensive to use.