Abstract Theoretical as well as experimental progress has been made in the last decade in describing the properties of baryons. In this review I will mostly report on the theoretical issues. Two non-perturbative methods are privileged frameworks for studying their properties in the low-energy domain: chiral perturbation theory, the effective field theory of the Standard Model at energies below 1 GeV and lattice QCD. I will mainly concentrate here on the first one but I will also discuss the complementarity of the two methods. Chiral extrapolations for lattice simulations of some nucleon properties will be investigated. I will then concentrate on processes involving at most two nucleons, describing for example pion–nucleon and pion–deuteron scattering, pion photo- and electro-production off the nucleon and the deuteron and doubly virtual Compton scattering. Three flavor calculations will also be reviewed.