Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are a class of porous materials prepared by the self-assembly of metal ions or clusters with organic ligands. The unique characteristics of MOFs, including structural tunability, high surface areas, low densities and tailored pore surface functionalization, have made them leading contenders as high-performance porous materials, alongside the established zeolites and activated carbons. Consequently, the permanent porosity of MOFs has been extensively exploited for gas capture and separation and catalysis. In recent years, the field has been expanded towards new applications and many studies of MOFs are venturing into unexplored avenues. A large number of studies have been focused on photoluminescent, upconversion luminescent, and nonlinear optical MOFs for applications in areas such as white-light emission, bioimaging, sensing, and photocatalysis. Within the first half of this tutorial review, we present the fundamental principles of luminescence, including detailed scientific discussions on the luminescence origin of different materials such as organic dyes, transition metal complexes, quantum dots, and lanthanide compounds. Principles and important parameters for the applications of luminescent MOFs are introduced, followed by a summary of recent interesting publications for each application. In the second half, we introduce nonlinear optical effects including second harmonic generation and two-photon absorption, and upconversion of luminescence, followed by detailed examples of MOFs that exhibit these phenomena. Finally, insights about the remaining challenges and future directions are discussed. (C) 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.