Formyl peptide receptors (FPRs) are a small group of 7-transmembrane domain, G protein-coupled receptors that are expressed mainly by mammalian phagocytic leukocytes and known to be important in host defense and inflammation. The three human FPRs (FPR1, FPR2/ALX and FPR3) share significant sequence homology and are encoded by clustered genes. Collectively, these receptors bind an extraordinarily numerous and structurally diverse group of agonistic ligands, including N-formyl and non-formal peptides of different composition, that chemoattract and activate phagocytes. N-formyl peptides, which are encoded in nature only by bacterial and mitochondrial genes and result from obligatory initiation of bacterial and mitochondrial protein synthesis with N-formylmethionine, is the only ligand class common to all three human receptors. Surprisingly, the endogenous anti-inflammatory peptide annexin 1 and its N-terminal fragments also bind human FPR1 and FPR2/ALX, and the anti-inflammatory eicosanoid lipoxin A4 is an agonist at FPR2/ALX. In comparison, fewer agonists have been identified for FPR3, the third member in this receptor family. Strucural and functional studies of the FPRs have produced important information for understanding the general pharmacological principles governing all leukocyte chemoattractant receptors. This article aims to provide an overview of the discovery and pharmacological characterization of FPRs, to introduce an IUPHAR recommended nomenclature, and to discuss unmet challenges, including the mechanisms used by these receptors to bind diverse ligands and mediate different biological functions.