We discuss two techniques of ultrafast X-ray science implemented at synchrotrons with application to the study of the real-time dynamics of chemical systems in solution. Time-resolved X-ray scattering and absorption offer complementary ways to study geometrical structural changes in a wide variety of systems. We present a few examples that demonstrate their ability to obtain structural information on timescales ranging from milliseconds down to hundreds of femtoseconds. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.