Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena, Germany. This review covers the research on brown algal pheromones from the first structural characterisation of an active principle in 1971 to the recent detailed insight into their biosynthesis. Development of analytical methods and bioassays that lead to the identification of a structural variety of different fatty acid-derived pheromones are reported. Special emphasis is focused on the inactivation of initially released pheromones through pericyclic reactions. The impact of pheromone-research on the defensive chemistry of brown algae and diatoms is discussed. 121 references are cited.