This article discusses the synthesis and properties of dendritic and hyperbranched polyamides. The first part of the article focuses on peptide dendrimers and starts with providing an overview of the synthetic pathways that have been used to prepare dendrimers based on both natural and nonnatural amino acids. After that, the possible use of peptide dendrimers for medical and biological applications, in catalysis, chromatography and encapsulation as well as their supramolecular properties will be discussed. The second part of the article concentrates on the synthesis and properties of hyperbranched polyamides. Hyperbranched polyamides based on both aliphatic and aromatic monomers will be discussed and examples of applications of these materials as rheology modifiers or as supports for the preparation of nanoparticles will be presented. In the third and final part of the article, alternative highly branched polyamide architectures will be discussed, which are not obtained in a one step reaction, but which are produced via iterative protocols based on the ring-opening polymerization of α-amino acid N-carboxyanhydrides. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.