© 2021 Society for Applied MicrobiologyAntimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are compounds, which have inhibitory activity against microorganisms. In the last decades, AMPs have become powerful alternative agents that have met the need for novel anti-infectives to overcome increasing antibiotic resistance problems. Moreover, recent epidemics and pandemics are increasing the popularity of AMPs, due to the urgent necessity for effective antimicrobial agents in combating the new emergence of microbial diseases. AMPs inhibit a wide range of microorganisms through diverse and special mechanisms by targeting mainly cell membranes or specific intracellular components. In addition to extraction from natural sources, AMPs are produced in various hosts using recombinant methods. More recently, the synthetic analogues of AMPs, designed with some modifications, are predicted to overcome the limitations of stability, toxicity and activity associated with natural AMPs. AMPs have potential applications as antimicrobial agents in food, agriculture, environment, animal husbandry and pharmaceutical industries. In this review, we have provided an overview of the structure, classification and mechanism of action of AMPs, as well as discussed opportunities for their current and potential applications.