The chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology and molecular biology of oxylipins (defined as a family of oxygenated natural products that are formed from unsaturated fatty acids by pathways involving at least one step of dioxygen-dependent oxidation) are complex and occasionally contradictory subjects that continue to develop at an extraordinarily rapid rate. The term includes docosanoids (e.g. protectins, resolvins and maresins, or specialized pro-resolving mediators), eicosanoids and octadecanoids and plant oxylipins, which are derived from either the omega-6 ( n-6) or the omega-3 ( n-3) families of polyunsaturated fatty acids. For example, the term eicosanoid is used to embrace those biologically active lipid mediators that are derived from C 20 fatty acids, and include prostaglandins, thromboxanes, leukotrienes, hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acids and related oxygenated derivatives. The key enzymes for the production of prostanoids are prostaglandin endoperoxide H synthases (cyclo-oxygenases), while lipoxygenases and oxidases of the cytochrome P450 family produce numerous other metabolites. In plants, the lipoxygenase pathway from C 18 polyunsaturated fatty acids yields a variety of important products, especially the jasmonates, which have some comparable structural features and functions. Related oxylipins are produced by non-enzymic means (isoprostanes), while fatty acid esters of hydroxy fatty acids (FAHFA) are now being considered together with the oxylipins from a functional perspective. In all kingdoms of life, oxylipins usually act as lipid mediators through specific receptors, have short half-lives and have functions in innumerable biological contexts.